yum khai dao, a thai fried egg salad


I love the delicious irony that I live in Thailand but I find Thai recipes via the internet. This one is from Food 52. A yum (pronounced with the same vowel sound as in but) is a warm cooked salad, this one featuring two fried eggs. It is sour, salty, sweet and should have been spicy but I left out the chilies because I can’t eat anything spicy. I forgot the onion in this picture. This recipe calls for palm sugar, which is sold in small round cakes at Asian markets. If palm sugar is not available, substitute brown sugar.

You’ll need:
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/4 cup coarsely chopped Chinese celery, with stems and leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro, with stems and leaves
1 1/2 tablespoons palm sugar syrup (recipe to follow)
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1/2 medium onion cut on the grain
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
2 fresh Thai chilies, thinly sliced (remove seeds if less heat is desired), optional
4 leaves romaine lettuce (also called cos), chopped

1. Fry the eggs. In a medium saucepan, fill the bottom with vegetable oil to about 1/4 inch level. Heat the oil until it is smoking. While the oil is heating, crack each egg open into a small bowl. When the oil begins to smoke, turn the heat down to medium at once. Carefully pour the egg as close as possible to the oil. It will crackle and swell. Pour in the second egg. When the edges turn brown, in about 45 seconds, use a slotted spoon to flip the eggs. The eggs will cook quickly, about 45 seconds, but go by appearance as to how soft or hard you want the egg yolks. Drain them on paper toweling and pat the top dry with another sheet.

Cook’s Note: Make sure the bowl is absolutely dry before you crack the egg open in it, because you are going to pour the egg into the hot oil and any water in the bowl will boil up when it comes in contact with the hot oil.

2. Make the salad dressing. Drain off the oil. Heat the pan over medium heat. Add the syrup, lime juice, fish sauce, garlic, onions, and chilies, if using. Heat just 15 seconds then remove from heat.

3. Assemble the salad. Slice the cooked eggs into quarters and return to the pot. If the egg yolks are runny, fine, if not, don’t worry. Add the cilantro and Chinese celery. Mix thoroughly.

4. Serve. On a plate, spread the chopped lettuce. Spoon the egg mixture on top and eat the yum khai dao with hot rice.

Palm Sugar Syrup
1 palm sugar cake (substitute 1/4 cup brown sugar)
5 tablespoons water

Coarsely chop the palm sugar cake. Put it in a small pot with the water. Heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and let it cool before using. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator.