Khai jiao, characterised by soft, fluffy layers and crisp edges, is a staple of Thai cuisine, found in the repertoire of every home cook and in menus everywhere from street food hawkers to restaurants. “This is a dish I grew up with, and it’s a popular dish in Thai households as it is easy to cook and makes for a sufficient meal with rice,” says Duangjaisantisuk Nipaporn, chef of Thai restaurant Blue Jasmine. “I remember how, when my mum ran out of ingredients, she would go to our chicken coop at the back of the house and pick a few freshly laid eggs to prepare a quick meal for my breakfast before she rushed off to the paddy fields for a day’s work.”
There are many ways to dress a basic khai jiao. Sliced scallions, green onions or shallots add flavour and texture to the omelette, while proteins like minced pork or chicken make it more substantial. Across Thailand, different regional ingredients might make their way into khai jiao. In north-east Thailand where ant larvae is a delicacy, you’ll find khai jiao kai mot; in coastal areas, crab or oyster. “In my village, acacia leaves are abundant, so we used to make the omelette with acacia leaves and chilli,” says Duangjaisantisuk, referring to a rustic dish called khai jiao cha om.
The chef shares that the secret for achieving khai jiao that is airy on the inside with a golden crisp crust is a few drops of lime juice and practiced control of the heat. Add a few drops of lime juice into the eggs and beat them vigorously with a fork. “The egg does not have to be beaten to death, but what is important is that you see bubbles covering the surface.”
Next, heat up the vegetable oil in a wok over high heat till it starts smoking. Pour in the egg from a slightly higher position and gradually decrease the height to wok-level to allow the omelette to develop airy layers inside and crisp jagged edges. Use a spatula to fold the omelette and prevent it from sticking to the wok. When you see the egg puffing up, lower the heat to medium.
2 red chillies (optional)
300g acacia leaves (optional)
200ml cooking oil
20ml fish sauce
A few drops of lime juice
1. Slice the chillies and acacia leaves into small pieces and add them into a mixing bowl.
2. Crack the eggs into the mixing bowl and beat with a fork till bubbles form.
4. Pour oil in the wok and put on high heat until the oil is smoking.
5. Pour the egg mixture into hot oil from a height of about 30cm.
6. Remove from pan when egg is golden brown and fluffy.
7. Serve with hot jasmine rice.
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