Thai style omelet (kai jeow) is so easy to make that you can cook it as a last-minute meal or a late night snack. Kai jeow is a pan-fried omelet that is infused with a combination of complex flavors. Kai jeow's sweet, sour, spicy, salty and umami flavor combination is the epitome of Southeast Asian cuisine. When you take your first bite, it will transport you to the streets of Bangkok.
The first time I had kai jeow was when I was a child and my mom would make it for me at lunchtime. She would always serve it with rice congee and a side of fish sauce with one sliced Thai pepper. That moment in time inspired me so much that I worked tirelessly with my mom to write down the exact measurements for each ingredient so that I can experience that specific joyous memory of eating kai jeow whenever I want.
A Must Have Ingredient: Fish Sauce
The must have ingredient in this recipe is fish sauce. Without it, the omelet will not have the burst of umami that this dish is known for.
Fish sauce is commonly used in Southeast Asian cuisine and is made with anchovies that have been layered with salt in a large vessel for approximately two years. After the fermentation process, the liquid containing the anchovy and salt extract is fermented again. And a few months later, the liquid is drained and filtered out once more and bottled.
When you purchase fish sauce, look at the ingredients. To ensure that you have great-tasting fish sauce, the ingredient list should only include fish and salt. My favorite brands include Red Boat and Golden Boy.
In addition to Kai Jeow, you can add fish sauce in a stir-fry, curries, fried rice, and many other Asian dishes.
Thai Omelet: No Wok Necessary
Traditionally, you make kai jeow in a wok. However, you don’t need a wok to make a kai jeow. I find that using a small non-stick pan is best. You want to make sure that the pan is nonstick, because when you flip your omelet, your nonstick pan will give you extra insurance that your omelet will flip in one piece. Another reason why I like to use a small nonstick pan is that you need less oil to cover the bottom.
If your omelet breaks when you flip it, don't worry; it will still taste delicious.
Use a Hot Skillet for Making Kai Jeow
Once you are ready to cook your omelet, you need to make sure you have a hot pan with shimmering oil that is lightly smoking.
Once the oil is hot, raise your bowl of egg mixture a foot from the pan and slowly pour in one motion. The omelet should start to crisp up immediately. As the omelet is cooking on one side, use a small spatula or chopsticks to push the edges of the omelet inward and tilt the pan to encourage the raw eggs in the center to come in contact with the pan. Once the center of the omelet is somewhat dry, flip the kai jeow.
If you want to make more than one omelet, you can make the appropriate amount of egg mixture and cook the omelet one serving at a time.
Kai Jeow Add-Ins
You can make this recipe your own by adding extra proteins to the egg mixture before frying it. Raw ground pork, ground chicken, crab meat or chopped shrimp will all work. Use no more than 1/3 cup so the add-ins don’t deflate the kai jeow.
Kai Jeow Serving Suggestions
Typically, kai jeow is served with rice and crunchy raw vegetables like lettuce and cucumber. The rice balances the saltiness of the dish, and the raw vegetables add freshness. If you want extra spice, serve sriracha or sambal on the side.
More Egg-cellent Egg Dishes!
Kai Jeow (Thai Omelet)
If you are having the kai jeow with steamed rice and raw vegetables, use the full 2 teaspoons of fish sauce, as the salty omelet will “season” what’s served with it. If you are having the omelet on its own, you may want to reduce the fish sauce to 1 teaspoon.
For the omelet
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons fish sauce (see recipe note)
1/4 teaspoon brown sugar
1 scallion, minced
1/2 Thai chili to start, minced (optional, can add more if desired)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 to 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 cup cooked jasmine rice
4 slices cucumber
Slices of romaine lettuce
Whisk the eggs:
In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, fish sauce, brown sugar, scallion, Thai chili (if using) and black pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk vigorously until well combined and no egg whites are visible.
Heat the oil smoking hot:
Heat vegetable oil in a small (about 8-inch diameter) nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until the oil is hot. You will know when the oil is ready when it smokes lightly.
Pour the eggs into the hot skillet and cook:
Hold the bowl of egg mixture 12 inches above the skillet and pour it into the skillet.
The egg will immediately start to fry and become puffy. Cook until lightly browned on the bottom. While you wait, use a small spatula or chopsticks to push the edges of the omelet inward and tilt the pan to encourage the raw eggs in the center to come in contact with the pan. Cook the first side for approximately 3 minutes.
Once the omelet is firm, flip the omelet by either flicking your wrist to flip the omelet like a pancake or use a large spatula. Allow it to cook until the other side is browned, approximately 15 seconds.
Here’s another flipping trick. Use a plate or the bottom of a large lid as a flipping aid. Slide the omelet from the pan onto the plate or lid so that the uncooked side is still up, then flip it over into the pan so the cooked side faces up.
Don’t worry if the omelet does not flip perfectly. It’ll still taste just as good.
Serve immediately with cooked rice, cucumber slices, romaine lettuce, and sriracha (if using). You can create a lettuce wrap with the romaine lettuce if you’d like. In the wrap, you can add cucumber, omelet, and rice.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 56g||71%|
|Saturated Fat 8g||39%|
|Total Carbohydrate 38g||14%|
|Dietary Fiber 4g||13%|
|Total Sugars 8g|
|Vitamin C 14mg||68%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|