What is a Thai Fried egg? | ‘Kai Dao’ Thai-style fried eggs – how it’s different and why it’s so delicious!

When you think of fried eggs you’re probably imagining the sunny side up eggs you have for breakfast, accompanying some toast, avocado or bacon. ‘Kai Dao’ (Thai-style fried eggs) is a little different – it’s crispy, crunchy, rich and can be seen starring in dishes from breakfast to dinner.

Pad Krapao Kai Dao – a match made in heaven! (Image source : The Journalist Club)

What is Kai Dao and how to make it?

So how is it different? The egg white of a Kai Dao is fried until crispy with a golden brown edge while the creamy yolk can be left runny or fully cooked. To achieve this all you need is a wok or a deep pan, spatula, oil, your egg of choice at room temperature and a few simple steps!

  1. Fill a wok or a deep pan with enough oil to cover the egg whites – yes it may seem like a lot of oil but you need it!
  2. Heat this at a medium high temperature until the oil only just starts smoking slightly.
  3. Crack your egg of choice (chicken or duck) into the centre and let the egg white bubble up. Please be cautious as the oil will spit a bit during this step.
  4. Once the egg white forms a crispy edge, gently splash oil over the top continuously until the yolk is cooked to your liking.
  5. Remove the egg and place it on a paper towel or draining rack (optional) before serving it on top of your favourite Thai dish or a warm bed of rice.

I remember teaching my partner how to make one for the first time. As I cracked the egg into the hot oil it started sizzling loudly while the egg white vigorously made big and small bubbles, his face lit up ‘oh this is amazing!’. He instantly became a big fan of the crispiness of the egg and learnt to perfect the method very quickly, making sure my yolk remains quite runny and his a bit more cooked through. He will always choose to have Kai Dao over normal fried eggs now and has become the head fried egg cooker at home!

Maybe not great for people with trypophobia but trust me it’s worth it! (Image source : MThai)

For me, hearing the clanging of the metal spatula hitting against the wok while the sizzling egg is being splashed with hot oil is so nostalgic. It reminds me of when I was little in Thailand, standing in the kitchen with a plate of rice eagerly waiting for a Kai Dao to be placed on top of it. I know many of my Thai friends who are now living abroad miss this simple egg dish – it reminds them of their loved ones and of their homeland.

The different ways you can eat Kai Dao

Drizzling a bit of seasoning sauce or Prik Nam Pla (fish sauce mixed with chillies) on top of a Kai Dao is a common way to enjoy these fried eggs. For many the runny yolk adds richness and creaminess to a dish and sometimes even reduces the spiciness of it. One of my favourite ways to have Kai Dao is on a warm bed of jasmine rice drizzled with a bit of seasoning sauce, it only takes a few minutes to make but is so delicious and perfect on a lazy day.

Kai Dao with seasoning sauce on a warm bed of rice. (Image source : Nailongdosi)

You’ll find Kai Dao on top of staple Thai dishes such as Pad Krapao (holy basil stir-fry), some will even say this dish is incomplete without an egg on top! Another popular dish that features this Thai-style fried egg is Yum Kai Dao – a salad with a strong spicy, sweet, sour and salty dressing mixed with cut up Kai Daos, tomatoes, shallots and Chinese celery. Unlike with many Western salads, this dish is best served with a warm plate of rice and can be a filling meal on its own.

Yum Kai Dao (Image source : MyLifeByPDa)

In Thailand, whether it be at street side food stalls or at food courts you’ll also often see an option to add Kai Dao onto any dish for an extra 10 to 15 Baht (which I always do). Fried rice, noodles, curries, you name it, we always love a Kai Dao on it!

It’s no wonder that Kai Dao translates literally to ‘egg star’ since it’s the star of the show for many of us. For me, the perfect Kai Dao has a runny centre and a nice crunch when you cut into it. If you’ve never had Thai-Style fried eggs then don’t forget to try your hand at making one or add it to your order next time.

How do you like your Kai Dao and what will you be having it with?

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