At 7am in Bangkok the city is animated. And of course being Bangkok, a city where food plays such an integral part in the daily rhythms and rituals of life, the cooking, selling, buying, eating, and transporting of food is already well underway.
For the food markets, the day began several hours earlier. For those heading off to the city’s office towers, thoughts of coffee stands and snacks are starting to formulate. The street hawkers whose trade is early morning to midday are well into their working day.
Coffee stands are kept busy, despite the proliferation of multinational chains across the city, with condensed milk beating out soy milk in popularity. Kanom krok (Thai ‘cup cakes’) are still more popular than the Western variety, the aroma of coconut attracting customers as the little treats brown in their unique dimpled pan.
In Chinatown, paa tong goy (deep fried Chinese bread) is being made and sold at a prodigious rate while kanom jim noodles made from fermented rice are served with everything from gaeng tai plaa (fish innards curry) to gaeng kiaow wan gai (green curry with chicken).
Elsewhere in the city, Thais are tucking into jok, a rice porridge like congee, and khao tom, a rice soup.
Given that this series is called Weekend Eggs, where are they?
Well, a typical egg dish that you’ll see on the streets is or suan, a fried oyster omelette. It was the dish that every chef/cook/restaurateur advised was the egg dish I should make, but if you’ve been reading this series over the past 18 months, you’ll know I’m no fan of overcooked eggs. In or suan, generally the eggs are cooked beyond recognition, and although the oysters are usually treated with respect, at some places where I’ve witnessed or suan being cooked, you’d want the damn oysters cooked through. It is a myth that all street food in Bangkok is good. Don’t believe us? Just ask Bangkok restaurateur Jarrett.
Another egg dish cooked within an inch of needing dental records to identify them as eggs is kai jiew moo saap, an omelette stuffed with minced pork. There are other variations on this but they all have one characteristic in common – the eggs are cooked to death.
Thankfully, flipping through a Thai cookbook one day, I saw a dish called kai yat say, literally meaning stuffed eggs. But this dish isn’t necessarily a breakfast dish – nor one that I’ve seen made much on the streets, although I’ve seen vendors with them pre-made.
Kai yat say is simply pork mince, diced vegetables and oyster sauce or fish sauce, stir fried and wrapped in a thin omelette cooked in a wok. As with many Thai dishes, there is no one canonical version of it, but most versions will include garlic, onion, carrots, peas, and tomatoes, along with the pork, or sometimes chicken.
While it’s a filling dish, many Thai people choose to have rice with it, along with some chilli sauce. I serve it on its own. Here’s my favourite version of the dish.
- 2 eggs
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons onion, minced
- 2 tablespoons carrot, finely diced
- 2 tablespoons green peas
- 1 garlic clove, finely minced
- 100g pork mince (or chicken)
- 1 tablespoon spring onions
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce (or oyster sauce)
- 1. In a wok, heat cooking oil and add the onions and carrots.
- 2. When the onions are translucent add the garlic and the mince.
- 3. Stir until the mince is cooked through (about 10 minutes).
- 4. While that’s cooking, break the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly; add the salt and pepper.
- 5. Remove the mince from the wok and add a tablespoon of cooking oil (I love rice bran oil for cooking). Add the egg mixture and swirl the wok so that the mixture coats the wok to about halfway up the sides.
- As the eggs start to set, add the mince to the centre of the omelette.
- 7. When the eggs start to hold shape, use a spatula to fold the omelette over the mix from each of the four sides.
- Slide the omelette to the side of the wok and flip it onto a serving plate.
- 9. Cut an ‘x’ into the top of the omelette and serve. Add garnish such as coriander or chopped spring onions and serve with some chilli sauce.