We choose our apartment in part because of its decent kitchen. After touring condo after condo with only a counter, a sink, and a bring-your-own-hot-plate mentality, our stove and refrigerator set-up looked glorious. I envisioned a year of tending to laborious broths and soufflés steamed in banana leaves, snapping beautiful photos along the way. How the internet would cherish my stories of food, always stopping back to see what I had for lunch!
Yeah, right. Thai food’s complexity proves difficult to emulate in one’s own kitchen. While cooking vegetables over high heat with lots of garlic and salty condiments requires little time or skill, it becomes boring and lacks the delicate balance of flavors present in so many other Thai dishes. Yet when I deviate from the simple things — fried eggs, rice, stir-frys — I generally fail and take to the streets for delicious and inexpensive treats.
I figured I would fall into that pattern this morning, when I decided to try cooking up a Thai omelet (ไข่เจียว). Thai foods with similarities to Western foods give me more trouble, especially psychologically, than foods that are distinctly Thai. A recent two-day attempt to steam simple pumpkin cakes left my self-efficacy low and a few pans ruined.
Eggs about 15 seconds into cooking/Eggs finished cooking
To my surprise and delight, I found Thai omelets (pronounced Khai Jiow) easy to make and as delicious to eat as they are outside the apartment. Served over rice steamed effortlessly in a cooker and with nectarines still warm from the sun, the omelet makes a quick, distinctly Thai breakfast. The eggs are fluffy and light on the inside, delicately crispy on the outside, and graciously without slime or the foul, overdone rubbery bits that sometimes plague Western egg breakfasts. In fact, I speculate that this preparation might appease those unfortunate egg-eschewing repeat victims of terribly prepared diner breakfasts in the states.
An internet recipe search led, once again, straight to She Simmers, who delivers an explanation of the dish and photographs and film of the cooking technique. The recipe and instructions that follow are hers, written through my interpretation. I found two eggs to be perfect for Andy and I to split, though I could have easily eaten the whole thing if I were hungry enough.
A few quick notes. Fish sauce has its fair share of haters. I understand; I used to be one. However, in this preparation, you want the savory saltiness it provides. When the eggs are fully cooked, the fishy smell will have subsided into something more subtle. If you really can’t possibly stand the idea of fish sauce in your eggs, try dialing the amount down and adding a few pinches of salt. Also, if you can’t find rice flour, you could omit it, though you won’t achieve the desired crispiness. Leela of She Simmers recommends potato or corn starch as substitutes, though I have not tested those. You can also substitute a few drops of lemon juice, lime juice, or cider vinegar for the white vinegar. What you’re going for with the vinegar is acid to tenderize, not flavor, so I’d go with what you have on hand.
Crispy outside/Fluffy inside
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 2 eggs
- A few drops of white vinegar
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp rice flour
- Steamed jasmine rice
Before starting on the omelet, begin steaming the rice, which needs to be done before cooking the eggs. When the rice is nearly done, pour the oil into a wok and set the burner to its highest setting. The oil should be very hot, on the verge of smoking.
Meanwhile, beat together two eggs in a medium-sized bowl and add the vinegar and fish sauce, continuing to beat vigorously. Add the rice flour and whisk, making sure to dissolve all lumps into an even solution — this requires patience and elbow grease. When your eggs are beaten and the oil is hot, plate the rice. You’ll want to top it with the omelet immediately after its done.
Pour the eggs into the wok, holding the bowl a foot or so over the pan. The distance means that the eggs will hit the oil in a way that lets the edges fan out, allowing for more delicious crispy bits. Count slowly to twenty before flipping the eggs, which will have puffed up before your eyes. If you can’t flip the patty in one move or pieces come apart, don’t worry. The important part is that surface area gets exposed to the hot oil. Count slowly to fifteen and pull the omelet out of the oil and onto your plated rice.
Top with sriracha and serve immediately. Serves two people, or one very hungry person.
Hi! I'm Susan, and this is my travel journal. You can read more about me here.
My Web StoreThese are travel products I have used on the road, curated especially for you.