This Thai omelette recipe makes kai iiew, a crispy, puffy golden-brown Thai omelette cooked in plenty of vegetable oil in a very hot wok. The eggs are fortified by a good dash of fish sauce and the omelette is served on steamed jasmine rice with some Sriracha sauce to spice things up.
This crispy, puffy Thai omelette recipe for kai jiew is a spectacular Thai dish to make. When poured into the hot oil, the whisked eggs with fish sauce form bubbles that grow and the omelette puffs right up like a crazy magic trick, before settling down as it cooks into a thick, soft, fluffy golden-brown omelette.
Variably spelt as kai jiaw, kai jiew, kai jeow, khai jiow, and khai jiao, these puffy Thai omelettes are different to the other style of omelette you’ll spot on your travels in Thailand and Cambodia, which are flat, thin, solid, and also golden-brown. They’re also different to the fluffy French-style omelettes you’ll find in the former French Indochina protectorates of Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.
This puffy Thai omelette recipe is the next eggs recipe in our re-launched decade-old series of Weekend Eggs recipes of breakfast eggs dishes from around the world, which we’re posting every Friday. We kicked off the re-booted series with a Calabrian take on eggs in purgatory and last week we published another Thai eggs dish for son-in-law eggs or kai look keuy, fried soft-boiled eggs with an ever-so-slightly crispy skin. This week we share another deep-fried Thai eggs dish for this puffy Thai omelette.
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Now let me tell you about this Thai omelette recipe for kai jiew.
Classic Thai Omelette Recipe for Kai Jiew, a Crispy Puffy Golden-Brown Omelette
Long before we started cooking this Thai omelette recipe for kai jiew, when we first began travelling to Thailand many years ago for holidays and then guidebook research trips, we’d often eat breakfast at the hotel. Initially it was to sustain ourselves before heading out for a long day of discovering whatever destination we were in. Later it was to sample the food if we were researching a guidebook or working on a story. I’d always order an omelette as a test of the kitchen and I was always disappointed.
While the omelettes were supposed to be cooked in the French style, in the classic half-moon shape, they were always dark brown and overcooked. They were the very antithesis of a good French omelette which should be pale yellow and you want the eggs just cooked and soft inside. I thought that maybe the chefs assumed that all foreigners liked their eggs over-cooked or they were over-cooking them at the request of hotel management for health and safety reasons.
It wasn’t until we tried a real Thai omelette at a local market that it dawned on me that the hotel chefs had been cooking a fusion of a classic French omelette and this puffy golden-brown Thai-style omelette we discovered. Yet they weren’t succeeding at either.
The crispy puffy Thai omelette at the market was a revelation. It was cooked in vegetable oil in a very hot, round-bottomed wok which virtually ‘souffléd’ the eggs when they made contact with the oil. Once the bottom had browned, it was flipped over with chopsticks and a mesh strainer and cooked for a few seconds more before being flipped onto a plate of steamed jasmine rice.
The cook sprinkled some thin slices of scallions or spring onions on the omelette before serving and there was a squeeze-bottle of Thai Sriracha sauce on the table. It was then that I understood the appeal of a real Thai omelette.
There are other versions of this crispy Thai omelette recipe that include minced pork or chicken and oyster sauce and even fancier omelettes with crab meat, oysters and mussels, but this is the classic Thai omelette that most Thai kids grow up with. It’s fast and easy to make, but it has plenty of flavour coming from the fish sauce and Sriracha sauce.
If you like this recipe, you might also like to try this kai yat say recipe for Thai ‘stuffed’ eggs, an egg parcel of stir-fried pork mince and diced vegetables, this Vietnamese-inspired crab omelette recipe, or this Cambodian omelette with minced pork and prahok (fermented fish).
Tips for Making this Thai Omelette Recipe
I only have a few tips for making this classic Thai omelette recipe. Firstly, if you’re not comfortable with techniques such as deep frying, as well as working with hot oil, this crispy Thai omelette recipe might not be for you.
Your eggs, as usual for these Weekend Eggs recipes, should be at room temperature as cold eggs will take the temperature of your cooking oil down when you need the most heat.
As with our Thai son-in-law eggs recipe, use an oil with a high smoke point, such as rice bran oil, as we’re deep frying at 190˚C.
Unlike the way I make my scrambled eggs, you want the eggs beaten well for this classic Thai omelette, as you want the fish sauce thoroughly combined with the eggs. We recommend the Thai fish sauce, Megachef for its reliability and availability as much as its quality.
As this is a very fast technique, have your steamed jasmine rice warmed up and dished out. If you’re making several of these for a breakfast or brunch with friends, you can keep the finished omelettes in a warm oven – but the sooner you eat it the better.
If you’re serving this puffy Thai omelette without jasmine rice, make it a three-egg omelette for one if you’re hungry.
Thai Omelette Recipe for Kai Jiew
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp fish sauce
- spring onions
- jasmine rice
- Sriracha sauce
- In a wide-brimmed measuring cup with a pouring spout, beat the eggs and fish sauce until they are fully incorporated.
- To a small wok, add enough vegetable oil so that there is a depth of around 1.5 cm of oil. Heat the oil to 190°C. Have a plate big enough to accept the omelette and bowls with jasmine rice ready before cooking.
- When the oil is steady at 190°C pour in the egg mixture. If your wok is hot enough the omelette will begin to bubble and swell up. Check the underside of the omelette after around 30 seconds. We need it to be golden brown, but not dark brown. When it has reached this level of colour, using a large strainer, carefully flip the omelette over. Cook the omelette for just a few seconds on this side.
- Flip the omelette over again as the darker side will be the presentation side. Carefully lift the omelette out of the wok and on to the serving plate.
- Sprinkle with the spring onions and dashes of Sriracha sauce.
Please do let us know if you make this classic Thai Omelette recipe for kai jiew in the comments below or on social media as we’d love to know how it turns out for you.