Laughably easy to make and refreshingly different, Yam Khai Dao is definitely one of my favourite Thai salads and has become a regular feature of any Thai meal of mine.
As with so many Thai dishes, this deceptively simple salad is a master class in contrast with the crispy, rich eggs giving balance to the classic sweet sour dressing and the bite of the chilli is tempered by the fresh herbs and lettuce. This is most definitely a case of remarkable food made with the most basic of ingredients.
Personally I think the addition of a salad is an essential part to any Thai meal. Not only do they as offer the perfect foil to the richness of most mainstay Thai dishes (like coconut based curries and fragrant salty stir-fries), but they also provide balance to a meal, both in terms of healthy eating and flavour.
Considerations of balance and healthy eating aside, Yam Khai Dao’s true appeal lies in the fact that it is so easy to make and, short of some palm sugar, requires almost no specialised Thai ingredients. Unsurprisingly the key component of this salad is the eggs; they must be cooked in a decent puddle of smoking hot oil to ensure that the whites of the eggs bubble up immediately upon contact, resulting in lovely crispy eggs without being saturated in fat. I love the fact that you can prepare most of the salad and dressing in advance and all that’s left to do before serving is to fry the eggs and mix everything together. To say that Yam Khai Dao is as easy as frying an egg is an understatement – if you can get that right, then the success of the salad is almost assured!
Yam Khai Dao ยำไข่ดาว (Thai Fried Egg Salad): Serves 4 as part of a main meal
- 3 large chicken or duck eggs (as fresh as possible)
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
For the salad:
- 2 small heads of either Romaine or Baby Gem Lettuce, rinsed & cut into 2cm slices
- 1 small stick of celery, finely sliced
- 1/4 cup celery leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 onion, very thinly sliced
- 1 small carrot, finely julienned into 4cm lengths
For the dressing:
- 2 tbsp. lime juice
- 2 tbsp. palm sugar
- 1 tbsp. fish sauce
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 small red chilli, finely sliced
For the garnish:
- A sprinkling of deep fried shallots (optional)
- First start by making the dressing. Place all the ingredients in a small saucepan. Heat over a medium heat and boil until the palm sugar dissolves. Immediately take off the heat and leave to cool at room temperature
- Place all the prepared salad ingredients into a large bowl and, using your hands, mix to combine
- When you are just about ready to serve the salad, heat a wok over a very high heat. Pour in the oil and wait till it begins to smoke. Crack each egg into a small bowl and then fry each egg individually for no more than a minute, turning them halfway. Transfer the eggs onto some kitchen paper to drain. Wait for a minute for the oil to reheat before cooking the next egg
- Cut the cooked eggs into rough quarters and add to the prepared salad. Pour over the dressing and mix thoroughly before transferring everything to a serving platter
- Sprinkle with deep fried shallots, if using
- Serve immediately