Sydney.  Food shots for Hot Food Column by Jill Dupleix. April 8 Devilled eggs. Photo: Peter Rae. Friday  28 March 2014.
Classic hors d'oeuvres: In Australia, devilled eggs probably date from about 1960. Photo: Peter Rae

Jill Dupleix

What are they?

Eggs that have been hard-boiled, peeled, halved and stuffed with spiced and seasoned egg yolk. Stuffed eggs have been around since ancient Rome, while ''devilling'', or the spicing of ham or chicken, was patented in Boston in 1870. The two joined forces and devilled eggs soon became popular party food in the southern and midwestern states of the United States. In Australia, these classic hors d'oeuvres date from the time we last used the term hors d'oeuvres, probably about 1960.

Where are they?

Casey Wall, chef and co-owner of Rockwell & Sons in Collingwood, grew up in devilled egg country, in North Carolina. "There are four distinct recipes for it on my father's side of the family alone," he says. "But I found hardly anyone knows what they are here." His own recipe involves house-made mayonnaise, a dehydrated kelp stock reduction, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, salt and chives. Wall says the piping of the mixture on to the halved egg "adds to the allure".

At the new Easy Tiger bar beneath Sydney's Unicorn Hotel in Paddington, the mixed hors d'oeuvres platter menu comes with vol au vents, chicken kiev bites and, in pride of place, the devilled egg.

"We're trying to bring back all the fun things from the '70s," says head chef Bradley Helson.

Devilled eggs also turn up in the Recipes for a Good Time cookbook by Bodega and Porteno's Elvis Abrahanowicz and Ben Milgate, who memorably use slow-cooked 65-degree eggs, sriracha sauce, curry powder, hot mustard and sherry vinegar. Their tip? Any left-over devilled egg mixture is great for sandwiches.

Why do I care?

Because there's a reason devilled eggs are having a revival - they taste good.

Can I do them at home?

Yes, just keep it simple. Nobody needs a fancy devilled egg. Flavour the basic egg yolk mixture with a kick-arse chilli sauce, curry powder, Moroccan harissa or Korean kim chi.

Sourcing

NSW

Easy Tiger at the Unicorn Hotel, 106 Oxford Street, Paddington, 9360 7994, facebook.com/theunicornsyd

VIC

Rockwell & Sons, 288 Smith Street, Collingwood, 03 8415 0700, rockwellandsons.com.au

Devilled eggs

Top the eggs with crumbled bacon, crisp-fried shallots, caviar, red onion, paprika, nigella seeds, anchovy fillets, fresh coriander or dill, or crushed pappadums.

6 organic eggs

3 tbsp whole-egg mayonnaise

2 tsp good curry powder

1 tbsp mango chutney

½ tsp paprika

½ tsp turmeric powder

¼ tsp cayenne

1 tbsp Dijon or hot English mustard

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp sea salt

¼ tsp black pepper

1. Place the eggs in a large pot of cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for nine minutes, then remove and cool immediately in iced water. Peel the eggs, halve lengthwise and gently remove each egg yolk.

2. Whiz the egg yolks in a mini food processor with the mayonnaise, curry powder, chutney, paprika, turmeric, cayenne, mustard, lemon juice, sea salt and pepper until smooth.

3. Spoon or pipe (using a star nozzle for extra allure) the mixture onto each egg white, top with your choice of garnish, and serve.

Makes: 12