‘My mother is an amazing cook, and so I always loved to eat’ — meet Rachel Khong

If your repertoire of egg dishes is limited to poached, scrambled or fried, it’s high time you met this interviewee, a woman making egg, in its many varieties, star of the kitchen. So, before we launch into a torrent of egg-related puns, allow us to introduce you to the author of Lucky Peach All About Eggs: Everything We Know About the World’s Most Important Food and the soon-to-be-released novel Goodbye, Vitamin, the eggcentric (sorry, it’s a reflex) Rachel Khong.

Tell us, what inspired your love of eggs?

Eggs were one of the first foods I learned how to cook, so they’ve always had a special place in my heart. You can do so many things with eggs, from dishes that are dead simple, to ones that are incredibly intricate. Eggs are the basis of so many of my favourite foods, from omelettes to soufflés, to ice cream to creme brulee.

What is your ultimate go-to egg recipe?

It’s hard to pick just one, but my favorite breakfast lately is a Turkish dish called çilbir: it’s poached eggs nestled in garlicky yogurt, with melted butter spiked with chilli drizzled all over the top. It’s spicy, rich, tangy, and altogether delicious. Sopped up with good bread, it’s a perfect breakfast.

Have you always loved cooking? Where did it all begin for you?

My mother is an amazing cook, and so I always loved to eat. My parents grew up in Malaysia, and so my mom would cook Indian, Chinese, and Malay food for us. Growing up, I enthusiastically ate all of it. I started cooking myself after college, when I was living in San Francisco with roommates who also loved to cook and eat. San Francisco is home to so many good farmers’ markets, so it was a pleasure to shop for vegetables and fruits from local farmers and then do an Internet search for how to cook them.

There was a lot of trial and error in those first cooking experiments (I remember accidentally dumping a whole half bottle of thyme on some eggplant. The eggplant wasn’t good, but I ate it anyway, as punishment. For some reason I remember that cooking failure more than I remember my successes). When I moved to Florida, for graduate school, good restaurants were much fewer and farther between than they had been in the Bay Area, and so I cooked constantly, out of necessity. I live in San Francisco now, and still love to cook with produce (and eggs of course!) from our local farmers’ markets.

What can we expect to find in your new book?

Expect to find anecdotes, essays, how-tos, and of course lots of recipes, sourced from egg lovers all around the world. I was striving for diversity in the recipes: I wanted to include recipes from all parts of the world. In the process of working on the book, I found that lots of cultures cook very similar egg dishes. I wanted to highlight both the diversity and the similarities, and celebrate everything that an egg can be and do.

What was it like to work on the final Lucky Peach cook book?

At the time I was working on All About Eggs, I didn’t know that it would be the final Lucky Peach cookbook! Knowing that it is is very bittersweet. But I’m proud of the book, and it was a real pleasure getting to work with many writers I admired, and especially with my design team, Tamara Shopsin and Jason Fulford, who are geniuses.

What’s coming up next for you? 

I actually have a debut novel called Goodbye, Vitamin coming out in June from Scribner UK (coming out in July from Holt in the U.S.). Writing fiction preceded my cooking and food-journalism career, so it’s exciting to finally have my first novel come out. It’s crazy timing and I definitely did not ever expect to have two books out in the same year! But it’s very exciting too.

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Sonya Gellert

Sonya Gellert is a contributing writer and associate editor for Khoollect. She lives in Sydney....

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