8eggs, at room temperatureFor deep-frying:vegetable oil8red or golden shallots, thinly sliced on a mandolin2long red chillies, thinly sliced200 gmthin rice stick noodles3Lebanese cucumbers, unpeeled, halved lengthways, seeds removed1 tbsp eachrice vinegar, fish sauce and lime juice20 gmlight palm sugar, finely crushed1small red chilli, finely chopped1garlic clove, finely choppedTo serve:coriander sprigsTamarind-chilli caramel3long red chillies, coarsely chopped (see note)2garlic cloves, coarsely chopped250 gmlight palm sugar, finely crushed110 mlfish sauce2 tbsplime juice2 tsptamarind purée
For tamarind-chilli caramel, process chilli and garlic in a food processor until finely chopped and set aside. Place palm sugar and 125ml water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, stir until sugar dissolves, bring to the boil and cook until caramelised (5-6 minutes). Remove from heat, add 100ml water (be careful, hot caramel will spit), stir to combine, add chilli mixture, return to heat and stir frequently until chilli turns dark red (8-10 minutes). Add fish sauce, simmer for 2 minutes, remove from heat, stir in lime juice and tamarind and refrigerate in a sterilised container until required. Makes about 350ml. Tamarind-chilli caramel will keep refrigerated for a month.
Cook eggs in a large saucepan of boiling water over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, carefully drain then rinse under cold running water until eggs are completely cold (8-10 minutes). Peel and set aside on absorbent paper to drain.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a small saucepan to 180C. Add shallot and chilli and deep-fry, stirring occasionally, until crisp and golden (3-4 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit), strain through a metal sieve (reserve oil) and set aside on absorbent paper to drain.
Cook noodles in a saucepan of boiling water over medium-high heat until just tender (2-3 minutes), drain, refresh, drain well and set aside in a large bowl. Thinly slice cucumbers lengthways into ribbons and set aside in a separate bowl.
Combine vinegar, fish sauce, lime juice, sugar, chilli, garlic and 35ml reserved oil in a bowl and stir to dissolve sugar. Just before serving, pour half over noodles, and remainder over cucumber and toss each to combine. Divide noodles and cucumber among serving bowls and set aside.
Heat remaining reserved oil in a saucepan (top up with extra oil if necessary), add eggs in batches and deep-fry, turning occasionally, until light golden (2-3 minutes; be careful, hot oil will spit) and set aside on absorbent paper to drain. Halve eggs and divide among serving bowls. Scatter with reserved crisp shallots and chilli, and coriander, drizzle with tamarind-chilli caramel and serve.
Note If you prefer a hotter sauce, add a couple
of birdseye chillies to the mixture; if you prefer less heat,
remove the seeds from some of the long red chillies before