Sorry for being such a disappearing blogger for the whole month last month. I had just overwhelmed myself with household projects, landlord duties, and fruit and vegetable preservation projects–sauces and jams–due to the abundance of the yummy summer fruits and vegetables in California and, last but not least, an attempting to enter myself into a reality cooking show. The last one will probably yield nothing but it was fun.
All of the chaos above caused me to crave “comfort food”. If you ask most Thai people which dish would be considered as comfort food, I bet that more than half of them would say “Kao – Khai – Jiao” (Kao=rice, Khai=egg, Jiao=deep-fried) or deep-fried omelette over steamed rice. That’s simple, really! Most Thais would know how to make their own “Kai-Jiao”.
I have to admit that I’m a little ashamed blogging about this. You know, like a good American food blogger wouldn’t want to blog about a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, right? Unless that PB&J is so special somehow, such as, fresh homemade peanut butter, bread or jam. Something more than just smearing some peanut butter on a slice of Wonder bread and spreading store-bought grape jelly on another slice and just slapping them together.
Well, a friend who so wants me to blog about deep-fried Thai omelette has successfully convinced me that, at least to the Americans, this is worth blogging about because most Americans never had this dish before, even though once they do, they’re hooked just like she is. My opinion, I never got hooked on PB&J sandwiches, and don’t expect anyone to be hooked on deep-fried Thai omelettes as well. But this blog is about the request from my lovely friends. So here I’m complying.
I’m warning you: There are many different ways of making Khai-Jiao and since I was asked, I’m going to give you ALL that I know, breaking them down one episode at a time as I make them for myself at home. The variations could be endless. There are probably 3-4 different categories of Khai-Jiao.
1) The golden crispy Just like its name, this type of omelette is not so thick, but golden in color, crispy and may be moist in the middle. It’s my most favorite kind here in the US because it’s made with all chicken eggs. There will be some “filling” but not so much because that can cause the egg to fall apart or not be as crispy. The technique is to pour the egg mixture high above the hot oil and raise the temperature after the egg is flipped in the wok.
2) The fluffy This is the type that looks and feels closest to a French omelette: thick, moist and tender inside. There is a big difference between the French omelette and the Thai Khai-Jiao. The French omelette is usually fluffy because of the air bubbles that were trapped inside the egg while beating, creating the structure of the omelette. The Thai omelette is also fluffy with the air bubbles but these aren’t from whipping the egg. The high heat that is used to cook the egg makes the water content in the egg expand or “fluff” to create the structure and then later escapes and leaves air bubbles.
So the big difference is in the cooking method. More filling can be added to this omelette than the crispy kind. This type can be made with chicken eggs or duck eggs–it doesn’t make any difference. The technique is to add citrus juice, vinegar or even milk to the mixture to increase the water content in the egg mixture and lower the temperature after adding the egg mixture to the hot oil, so the egg won’t collapse after taken out of the oil.
3) The blunt or bun style This is the most difficult one to make. The omelette is round in shape, very thick–2-3 inches–almost like a bun. It’s fluffy and moist inside and crispy on the outside. It was my most favorite kind when I lived in Thailand. I haven’t had that since I moved here because it was made from all duck eggs and I can’t find duck eggs here!
I will try to find a way to make it with chicken eggs and I will blog about it when I succeed. The technique is to pour the mixture SLOWLY in one place in the hot oil. The oil will cook the outside of the egg right away and create a “shell” while the egg mixture continues to be added to the inside and “swells” the omelette. Oh my gosh, I so want to eat this!
4) The full fillings This is the kind with A LOT of filling. Some of it even overflows to the outside, either intentionally or by accident. The egg to filling ratio is 50-50. It can be done with both chicken or duck eggs.
This is the first episode, the golden crispy Khai Jiao.
1) Egg 2-3 eggs at room temperature
2) Vegetable oil approximately about 2 cups or about an inch deep in the wok or pan. If you use a wok, then you can use less oil.
3) Soy sauce or fish sauce approximately about 1 tablespoon
4) Other ingredients as you prefer, no more than 1/2 cup total
Note about the other ingredients: You can add chopped herbs or vegetables such as scallions, shallots, onions, tomatoes, pickled garlic, and sweet pickled turnip. Or meat such as pork (the most popular), beef, chicken, shrimp, or crab. You don’t need to cook seafood before you add it but for land animals, you should cook and let it cool down to room temperature before you add it to the egg mixture. You can also add BOTH meat and vegetables but the total amount still shouldn’t be more than 1/2 cup when using 3 eggs, or your omelette will not be as crispy.
1) Put oil in a deep pan or wok and set it over medium heat. It will take a while before 2 cups of oil will be hot enough to fry the omelette. I never use a thermometer, but I test it by dropping a bit of egg mixture in the pan.
2) While you’re waiting for the oil to heat up, put the eggs in a bowl, using a large one because you have to beat the eggs furiously. I use a fork to beat the eggs but you are very welcome to use a whisk if you like. I’ve seen people use a whisk to whip up Khai-Jiao before, and it came out fluffy, but I just felt like they were capturing a rat with a bear trap.
How you beat the eggs is very important because you will do it differently for each of the four kinds of Khai-Jiao. For the crispy kind, you need to beat them by lifting the fork high above the surface to incorporate as much air as possible into the eggs. The result should be a foamy egg mixture after you’re done.
Beat the egg for at least 30 seconds and start adding fish sauce. Then beat again after you’ve added the other ingredients for another minute or until foamy.
3) The oil should be very hot. You can test it by dropping a bit of the egg mixture in to the oil. If it sizzles and fluffs up right away then the oil is hot enough.
Pour the egg mixture in from about 12″ above the surface of the oil.
If you want your Khai-Jiaow slightly fluffy in the middle, then pour it all in the same place in the middle of the pan. If you like Khai-Jiao crispy all over, then pour the mixture in a circle around the wok.
4) Let the egg cook until the top is set
and the bottom is slightly golden. The middle might be runny but its ok. You can lift the corner to see the doneness.
Flip the egg and increase the heat to high.
The runny part will now flow out and get cooked.
Let it cook until golden. I usually flipped it one or two more times, just another 10-15 seconds on each side.
This makes the both sides crispier and less oily
but remember the egg is still hot and continues cooking when you take Khai-Jiao out of the wok, so the color will be slightly darker and crispier afterwards too.
5) Take the Khai-Jiaow out of the oil, letting the oil drip until it stops
and then put it on at least three layers of paper towels.
I even dab the excess oil from the top too. Let it drain on the paper towel for a few minutes, then put another 2 pieces of paper towel on top and flip the whole omelette again, this time just to drain oil from the other side.
6) Serve on top of steamed jasmine rice with Sriracha sauce.
Preferably NOT the Huy Fong Food brand or the One Chicken logo, please. That’s the Vietnamese brand, even though they used the original Thai name. It is too sour and too garlicky for my taste. The double chicken brand or at least the golden mountain brand would be better.
This is what I do to the left over Khai-Jiaow.