At the counter of a small coffee shop in the center of Chiang Mai, Thailand, a gangly redheaded westerner sat perched on a tall stool. With him, a guy I recognized from the back of the Bangkok Lonely Planet travel guide. As I sipped my well-made latte, I realized I was gawking Andy Ricker, the owner-chef of Pok Pok restaurant and its brethren, in Portland, OR, and New York City.
I couldn’t be further from Chiang Mai now, and I imagine even Mr. Ricker has gone back to his stateside life, but this recipe comes from the Pok Pok cookbook, which Dan and I received as a gift over the holidays we’d been so eager to escape from in Asia. And this salad is a bit of an escape itself — all that bright, sweet, spicy flavor on our breakfast table while a snowstorm bears down on the northeast yet again.
Thai Fried Egg Salad (Yam Khai Dao)
Adapted slightly from Pok Pok, by Andy Ricker
I almost never cook eggs in vegetable oil, preferring butter first, or shallot oil second. If you do any other southeast asian cooking, shallot oil is a good one to have around. (Just cook some thinly-sliced shallots in oil until golden brown and crispy. Drain on paper towels, reserving the oil and the shallots for other purposes.) And I can’t bear to eat eggs without pepper, so a little white pepper sneaks into this recipe as I’ve rewritten it. For the salad, instead of lettuce I used pea sprouts, since we had some on hand.
- 2 large eggs
- 1/4 to 1/3 cup vegetable oil, preferably shallot oil, or butter
- ground white pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice, preferably from key limes, or a mixture of regular lime juice with Meyer lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tablespoons palm sugar simple syrup, recipe follows
- 1 tablespoon Thai fish sauce
- 1 clove garlic, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 small Thai green chiles, thinly sliced
- 1 cup pea sprouts
- 1/4 cup yellow onion, thinly sliced with the grain
- 1/4 cup carrot, julienned
- 1/4 cup chinese celery leaves and stems, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro leaves and stems, coarsely chopped
- Heat a wok or your favorite egg pan over high heat and add the oil or butter. Once the oil is very hot, add the eggs. You’re going for a crispy fried egg — the oil will sputter and the whites will put on a great bubbly show. When the edges of the whites are crisp and deep golden brown, flip the egg. Cook until the bottom is golden and the yolk is firm but not yet chalky. Transfer the eggs to paper towels to drain, sprinkle with ground white pepper, then quarter them through the yolks. Rinse and wipe out the pan and let it cool.
- Combine the lime juice, simple syrup, fish sauce, garlic, and chiles in the clean pan and heat until just warm. Combine the pea shoots, onion, carrot, celery, cilantro, and eggs in a bowl, and pour the warm dressing over. Toss very lightly to coat and serve immediately.
Palm Sugar Simple Syrup
This is easily doubled or tripled, and works very well in cocktails.
- 2 1/2 ounces palm sugar, coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon water
Combine the sugar and water in a very small pot and heat over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Let cool and transfer to an airtight container. Keeps in the refrigerator for two weeks.