What Is Tokneneng?

Lakshmi Sandhana

Tokneneng is a very popular Filipino street food that is made of deep-fried boiled chicken eggs. A tempura-like food, it is easily confused with kwek-kwek, which follows the same basic recipe but uses quail eggs instead. Tokneneng is easily made by dipping chicken eggs in a reddish-orange batter and frying them until the coating becomes crispy. It is sold on mobile carts along with fish balls, squid balls, and kwek-kwek.

Tokneneng is often garnished with sliced or chopped cucumber.
Tokneneng is often garnished with sliced or chopped cucumber.

As the basic dish consists of just deep-fried eggs that don't have a lot of flavor to them, the deliciousness of Tokneneng comes from the dipping sauce used. Some prefer a spiced vinegar-based dip, while others use a sweet chili or fish ball sauce. Any sweet-and-sour rich sauce complements the crispy eggs well. Tokneneng is a very inexpensive yet substantial dish that's quite filling as a meal.

Also made with duck eggs at times, Tokneneng is a good meal for kids who enjoy eating skewered, deep-fried eggs for lunch. When packed as a lunch meal, the dipping sauce needs to be packed separately to ensure that the eggs stay crispy on the outside. It can be very easily prepared at home along with a flavorful dipping sauce.

The basic ingredients aside from eggs are cornflour, plain flour, and oil. Cooks boil the eggs and take the shells off before dipping them into the batter. They mix a little cornflour with salt, pepper, and red food coloring to make the batter and stir it well until all the lumps are dissolved. The cook coats the shelled egg with the batter and drops it into a wok with hot oil.

They deep-fry the batter-coated eggs and set them aside to drain on paper towels once they are done. Cooks may use skewers to pierce and drop the eggs into the hot oil. Instead of using food coloring, cooks may also use annatto seed. They put these seeds, which are brick red in color, in a little water and wait until the water is red. They use this colored water to mix the cornflour with salt and pepper.

To make a basic dipping sauce, cooks may use a combination of rice vinegar, soy sauce, ketchup, and brown sugar. They heat all the ingredients together until the sugar thoroughly dissolves into the sauce. To make a more complex sauce, cooks may use a little onion, cucumber, and a few pieces of siling labuyo, a very hot, small chili pepper. They boil these ingredients except for the cucumber along with vinegar and rock salt until they are well blended. They serve the Tokeneneng with the dipping sauce garnished with finely chopped cucumber pieces.

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