Thai-Style Omelets (Khai Jiao, Khai Jeow, Khai Jiaw, ไข่เจียว)


thai omelet khai jiao
Imagine a bowl of soft and fluffy Jasmine rice. Perfectly cooked. Unadorned. Not piping hot; just a tad warmer than room temperature. Imagine a Thai omelet, a round of soft and fluffy eggy layers, hot and puffy off the wok, with its edges crispy and light as clouds over the rice. Then imagine a blessed anointing of Thai Sriracha on top of it all … My heartbeats are audible as I’m typing this.

From the way I’ve described Khai Jiaw or Khai Jeow, Khai Jiow, Khai Jiao (ไข่เจียว) above, you can see that Thai-style omelets (or omelettes? — maybe I should confuse everybody by alternating between both variants as well as the various Thai spellings in this post?) are so drastically different from their French counterparts. Actually, other than the fact that both are made out of eggs, they have very little in common both in the way they’re made or served. While French omelettes are supposed to be light-colored and soft and creamy all over, Thai omelets are supposed to be fluffy on the inside and crispy on the outside (particularly around the edges).

thai omelet khai jiaw

The hot oil ensures that while the edges are light and crispy, the inside is soft and creamy.

Then again, as is the case with any given dish, different people have different preferences. My grandmother loved her Khai Jiow soft and a bit oily (but then she liked her coffee at room temperature too …). For one of my cousins, Khai Jiao is not authentic unless it has thinly-sliced shallots added. Some people add herbs or meat (fresh oyster, ground pork, crab meat, etc.) to their Thai omelettes. I like my Khai Jiao plain. And since this is my blog (heh), crispy plain Thai-style omelet is featured here.

Here’s how you make a single serving of crispy Khai Jiaw.

First, a little visual aid.

Now, the recipe.

thai omelet khai jiao

 

5.0 from 3 reviews
Thai-Style Omelets (Khai Jiao, Khai Jeow, Khai Jiaw, ไข่เจียว)
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main Dish, Entree, Vegetarian
Serves: 1
Ingredients
  • 2 large duck or chicken eggs
  • 2-3 drops of lime or lemon juice (plain white vinegar works too)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch, potato starch, or rice flour
  • 1 teaspoon of fish sauce
  • ¾ cup plain vegetable oil
Instructions
  1. Before you do anything, scoop some steamed Jasmine riceonto a serving plate. The omelet cooks very quickly and when it goes out of the wok, it needs a place to land immediately.
  2. Crack the eggs into a bowl that is big enough to hold twice their volume.
  3. Add the lime juice and fish sauce to the eggs.
  4. Meanwhile, get your wok ready. An 8-inch nonstick wok works best here. Heat up the vegetable oil in the wok over high heat.
  5. Beat the egg mixture with a fork or a small whisk until it is frothy. Your eggs don’t need to be beaten as if you were making sponge cake or sabayon; you just want to get the eggs to be light and airy.
  6. Beat in the flour; make sure the flour is completely interspersed with the egg mixture for lumps are bad, really bad. (To minimize the risk of lumps, instead of adding the lime juice and fish sauce separately, you can mix both with the flour, adding a teaspoon or so of water if absolutely necessary. Then you beat the mixture into the eggs.)
  7. Once the oil starts smoking (you must see smoke), it is ready. Add the frothy egg mixture into the hot oil and see how it puffs up before your eyes. If you crave drama in the kitchen, hold the egg bowl about a foot or so above the wok and pour. This will create the milk crown effect which causes your Khai Jiaw to develop jagged edges and asymmetry which lead to more pronounced inner layers and peripheral crispiness. No hardcore splattering should happen, but to be on the safe side, you may want to stand back.
  8. Count to 20 Mississippis, flip the omelette once (don’t worry if you mess it up while flipping; anything that creates jagged edges and asymmetry works well here), and count another 20 Mississippis. Take the omelet out of the pan and place it on top of the rice. Drizzle some Thai Sriracha sauce (aka not the Rooster sauce) on top if desired and consume immediately.
Notes
The acidity of the lime juice will help tenderize the finished dish. It's optional, but 1. the amount is so minuscule that you're not going to taste it and 2. it helps create such tender inner layers. Fish sauce … I know not all of us dig the stuff, but trust me on this — once the eggs are cooked, you’re not going to smell or taste the fishiness. (So far, only one of my fish sauce hater friends has managed to detect the smell, but then his nose works like that of a trained Beagle.) If you absolutely can’t find or stand fish sauce, or if you want to make this strictly vegetarian, use salt, to taste. Khai Jiaw flavored with salt isn’t as good as one flavored with fish sauce, in my opinion. But compared to soy sauce, salt is the lesser evil. I think soy sauce completely ruins what would have been a good Thai omelet. Not only does its dark color mar the bright golden hue, Khai Jiaw with soy sauce also tastes foreign to my Thai palate. Ideally, the lipid of choice is lard as it ensures crispiness. If cooking with rendered pork fat is something your heart yearns for, go for it. But for those who prefer cooking with plant-based lipids, fret not, crispiness can also be achieved with the tips and tricks included here.The trick is to use lots of oil and high heat. When done right, the omelet won’t be oily at all. Thai omelettes are not exactly deep-fried like donuts or fried chicken; they are, for lack of a better term, flash-fried. The egg mixture puffs, crisps, and browns up instantly once it hits the oil. In just a matter of seconds, it goes out of the wok. For this single serving, if both sides of your omelet do not crisp or brown up properly in less than a minute, either the oil isn’t hot enough or you get scared and put in less oil than instructed. The flour is what makes the edges of the omelet nice and crispy. A lot of people skip this step which is fine; this is just one of those tricks of the trade I have learned from chatting with street vendors. I like the crispy edges, so this is what I always do.

adsa

79 Responses to Thai-Style Omelets (Khai Jiao, Khai Jeow, Khai Jiaw, ไข่เจียว)

  1. pigpigscorner May 24, 2009 at 10:56 pm #

    I like how it fluffs up! I recently discovered Sriracha and love it!

  2. oysterculture May 25, 2009 at 12:15 am #

    Oh I love these omlettes and now I know how to make them hurray! (me jumping up and down) I cannot wait to show the hubby.

  3. Jenn May 25, 2009 at 1:26 am #

    I love sriracha!! Fluffy and crispy are my two favorite textures. I’ve never had thai-style omelets and I love thai food. I’ll have to try these out.

  4. Mike May 25, 2009 at 1:52 am #

    Nice! I love egg cooked in a wok like this.

  5. Manggy May 25, 2009 at 2:11 am #

    Hmm, I’m not sure what I can say about the pronunciation, because I always thought it was Sree-rat-cha, but never mind 🙂 That is quite a dramatic transformation, and it sounds like a great breakfast! 🙂

  6. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella May 25, 2009 at 4:45 am #

    I absolutely love your Thai recipes Leela and I am so grateful to yo for sharing them with us! 😀

  7. Arwen from Hoglet K May 25, 2009 at 4:46 am #

    It’s great the way it’s puffed up like that, and the crispy salty edges do sound tempting.

  8. shoppingmum May 25, 2009 at 6:03 am #

    I’ve just taken khai jiao for my lunch just now. 🙂 I like your recipe!

  9. lisaiscooking May 25, 2009 at 2:15 pm #

    Sounds delicious, especially with the sriracha on top! Wish I could have this for breakfast right now.

  10. Kelly May 25, 2009 at 3:06 pm #

    I have never seen that before, but it sounds out of this world! I love sriacha on scrambled and fried eggs. I amintrigued bu the way you describe the texture of these eggs. Truly, mouthwatering. I love the pictures. The one with the hearts really made me smile!

  11. Cucinista May 25, 2009 at 3:25 pm #

    Amazing transformation of eggs and a great technique. Thanks for sharing. Thanks also for the rant on sriracha pronunciation. It always bothers me when newspapers mis-spell words or use incorrect grammar!

  12. Zita May 25, 2009 at 5:12 pm #

    Ha… love the extra drawing on Sriracha 🙂
    Sometimese I too have a simple craving for just omelete and rice… only I usually drizle w/ soysauce:)

  13. Uncle Vinny May 25, 2009 at 6:12 pm #

    Thanks to @crispywaffle for leading me here… I think this would be a great recipe to see a youtube video showing how to make this happen! I adore the little sriracha drawing, too.

  14. doggybloggy May 25, 2009 at 9:32 pm #

    I think my favorite part of this whole post is that the omelete takes 40 mississippis to make – I will be trying this one this week

  15. 5 Star Foodie May 26, 2009 at 3:26 am #

    I’ve never had a Thai-style omelet – it sounds so good with the crispiness outside and the fluffiness on the inside! I can’t wait to try it! Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  16. Marc @ NoRecipes May 26, 2009 at 9:45 am #

    Mmmm yummy! I miss the food in Thailand.

  17. dp May 26, 2009 at 7:21 pm #

    I grew up on this type of food. Only difference, we ate it with sticky rice. And I love it with naam prik pao. It brings back memories of my mom’s kitchen.

    Will have to try the adding the flour.

  18. dlf June 10, 2009 at 1:11 am #

    I just made this — with every bite I was wondering how it was possible that a bit of fish sauce, lemon juice, and rice flour could make eggs so wonderful! the little crispy bits were divine

  19. Leela June 10, 2009 at 1:16 am #

    dlf – Oh, glad you liked it. Thanks for dropping by and making my day.

  20. megan (brooklyn farmhouse) June 22, 2009 at 6:29 pm #

    I am redic excited about this. I LOVE Thai omelets. Best omelet I’ve ever had was in Thailand and I still think about it to this day. I am super happy to have found your blog.

  21. Scott July 8, 2009 at 5:19 pm #

    I just found your site last week. I made this for dinner last night…what a fun and easy recipe. I think I’ll be visiting here often for my Thai recipes. By the way I love how you tell us what ingredients are essential and what ones are not. It helps loads when I want to try a new recipe but don’t want to totally restock my pantry. Thanks.

  22. Leela July 8, 2009 at 5:24 pm #

    Scott – Thanks for the kind words. Glad you had fun making Khai Jiaw. Love feedback like yours that tells me what you guys like (or don’t like). Very helpful. Thanks. 🙂

  23. Crack la Rock July 9, 2009 at 5:41 pm #

    Hey Big fan here. I grew up 84-00’s in Thai. My dad us visiting me in Portland this week and we spent the morning reading your blog and reminiscing over dishes and the best places to eat’em.His vote for Omelet is at the Federal Hotel restaurant on soi 12 Sukuhmvit. Sure it was full of freaky expats but you can’t fade the food!!! Thanks for your well written and hunger inspiring blog! Cheers & Chaiyo!

  24. Leela July 9, 2009 at 5:49 pm #

    Crack La Rock – Hey, thanks for the comment. It made my day! I’m going to be in Thailand in the next couple weeks and will definitely check out Khai Jiaw on Sukhumvit 12, expats notwithstanding. Say hi to your dad for me! 🙂

  25. Glenruben April 25, 2010 at 12:41 pm #

    I just made this course, and it’s brilliant – I love it!

    Thanks for sharing this, will be sure to keep an eye on your blog 😀

  26. Anonymous May 6, 2010 at 10:26 am #

    I’m not in thailand right now so I don’t have a wok. Would it be possible to make this in an ordinary frying pan?… I’ve never tried before and i’m worried it won’t be fluffy

  27. Leela May 6, 2010 at 2:46 pm #

    Anonymous – You don’t need a wok. I recommend an 8-inch frying pan, actually. As long as the sides are at least 1.5 inches high, you’re good. Once you get a proper pan, the only two things that will guarantee your khai jiaw won’t fluff up would be 1. too little oil and 2. oil that is not heated to smoking point.

    Be sure to pour the eggs from about a foot above the pan.

  28. Anonymous July 6, 2010 at 6:17 pm #

    I made omelettes your way three times over the weekend. For the first one, I added a tsp of water (from my standard omelette recipe) and fried it in decadent bacon fat. The result was spectacular – I could hardly believe how swollen and crispy it got. The second one, without the water added, but also in bacon fat, was very good, but not quite as puffy, I thought. The last one was done in a regular non-stick pan with too litle oil, and it was merely OK. I’ll probably try the water vs no water methods a few times, to see if I can distinguish them every time.

    However, the bottom line is that I won’t be doing omelettes my old way any more. Thanks very much for posting this, you have changed my weekend breakfasts.

    IanG

  29. vera July 7, 2010 at 3:47 pm #

    I dont know what leads me to your blog as I was searching for thai food recipe for my 30th bday. Then coincidently I discover your blog. I was looking for something easy to cook and suit local taste.

    Then i discover you Khai Jiaw and try it as I have to fed 50 people. This omelets its nice. I used the fish sauce and lime (realise lime help to make the smelly fishy disapear). It turns out to be a hit among my colleague.

    I sincerely thank you for what you have done and I found your blog so interesting. There’s a reason behind everything and there’s always a story. Remind me of my own childhood.

    I will continue to go to your blog and find recipe for my next party. Thank you so much. Really appreciate once u done.

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart

  30. Leela July 7, 2010 at 6:06 pm #

    Vera – Thanks. Glad you and your guests liked the omelet! 🙂

  31. Joe May 23, 2011 at 2:27 pm #

    Thanks for this recipe! I just got back from a few months in Thailand and this is the best thing I could have possibly found. Any ideas for adding pork to it? as in khai jiaw moo sub?

  32. Leela May 23, 2011 at 7:01 pm #

    Joe – Agreed. Khai Jiao’s the best! To male khai jiao mu sap, just add some ground pork (a couple of ounces for every 2 eggs give or take) and beat it along with the eggs. You can also make crab omelet the same way, but instead of beating crab meat along with the eggs, I’d fold it in after the eggs have been beaten since crab meat is more delicate than ground pork.

  33. Hillary August 1, 2011 at 6:15 pm #

    any advice on what you can do with the left over oil? Can you use it twice? three times? I’d hate for it to go to waste….

  34. Admin August 1, 2011 at 6:27 pm #

    Hillary – Yeah, I know what you mean. I usually use it no more than 3 times. There’s not much left after that anyway.

  35. Anonymous August 27, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    I just made this twice as an experiment. First time, I used eggs, fish sauce, and rice flour, frying it in canola oil. Second time I used egg beaters, fish sauce, and cornstarch. No joke, I think the egg beaters version was better. They really frothed up fast when I beat them, so perhaps they just created a lighter effect. Thanks so much for sharing this delicious recipe!

  36. Admin August 27, 2011 at 10:16 pm #

    Anon – Thanks for the report! That makes sense, actually, given the fact that Eggbeaters, if I’m not mistaken, is made of egg whites. That’s why it’s lighter and more frothy. Great experiment! Thanks.

  37. Becki October 29, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    I just tried this for breakfast today. Delicious! The only slight downside is that the moment I poured the mix into the pan, it immediately set off my smoke alarm. I didn’t burn anything though, it probably went off because of the heat of the oil. Still, it was definitely worth it!

  38. FabBecky November 26, 2011 at 7:24 pm #

    literally just “stumbledupon” your blog… I love Thai food, but live too far away from a decent restaurant to indulge. After finding your blog in the last week I have made this omlet, peanut sauce, chicken satay all with incredible results! Thank you so much! AND My normally very picky 4 yr old ate the chicken satay like a starving man 🙂 and wanted more for breakfast the next morning.

  39. Admin November 26, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    FabBecky – This made me so happy! Thanks.

  40. Chip Moreland January 7, 2012 at 5:25 pm #

    Looks delicious!!! I gotta say. I really like your writing style.

  41. Susan January 11, 2012 at 9:01 pm #

    I made this last week from your directions and now my husband asks for me to make it every day.

  42. Admin January 11, 2012 at 10:11 pm #

    Susan – Glad to hear. 🙂

  43. Anonymous May 13, 2012 at 6:23 pm #

    If putting crab in this omelette, should the crab be cooked first or raw?

  44. Admin May 13, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

    Anon – I was going to say either way, since crab meat cooks very quickly anyway. But that seems like an unnecessary point as all grocery store crab meat is always cooked whether it comes in a can, a sealed plastic bag, or a plastic tub. In fact, I don’t know if it’s even possible to extract raw meat out of a crab without cooking the crab first.

  45. Z$ November 18, 2012 at 8:37 pm #

    Love your blog and my wife and I have used many of your recipes over the past few months since we found it. I made this myself a couple nights ago, with no added meat or herbs, and it came out really well. Fried crispy edges, nicely puffed, not oily because it all stayed together in the wok. I tried it again tonight with crab added and it broke apart, becoming oily. I’m not an intuitive cook like my wife is, so do you have any recommendations on the amount of crab to add or advice on how to get a similar result when adding meat? Thanks if you have time to answer, and your blog has literally made our lives in our new, small, Thai-food lacking town so much better 🙂

    • Leela November 19, 2012 at 2:20 am #

      Thank you! Regarding the added crabmeat, my guess is that it the crabmeat adds extra moisture to the egg mixture which creates more steam and cause the oil temperature to drop lower (which leads to more oil retention in the final product). Try squeezing as much moisture as possible out of the crabmeat before you add it in, perhaps? Jumbo lump crabmeat is pretty dry, so it usually doesn’t cause these problems. But claw meat or canned crabmeat tend to come with a lot of moisture.

  46. Nana November 22, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    Can I use chicken stock insted of fish sauce?

    • Leela November 22, 2012 at 10:00 pm #

      Is that because you don’t like the taste and smell of fish sauce? If that’s the case, I recommend salt (1/2 teaspoon or so). The end result normally doesn’t smell fishy, by the way.

  47. pilau December 10, 2012 at 8:41 am #

    Leela, I’ve been hooked to your blog for over a year now. After having spent 4 months in Prathet Thai, this Thai food bible has been my culinary guiding star 🙂

    I just finished “mississipping” and eating my Khai Tiao, which was a first as I never had it while in Thailand. The texture was fantastic, but the omelette was totally oil soaked. I am using a regular stove and a heavy non-stick wok. Was it because the oil wasn’t hot enough? What can I do better next time?

    Thanks, and I’m sure I’m speaking for all your readers saying please never stop what you’re doing!

    • Leela December 10, 2012 at 8:42 pm #

      Most likely. You know the oil is hot enough when you see smoke coming from it. A lot of people are afraid to let the oil get that hot.
      Thanks for the kind words!

      • pilau December 11, 2012 at 4:35 am #

        I did let it smoke but only some fumes. And not because I was afraid, but because I was too hungry to wait! Haha… So I’ll make it again soon and let you know how it went.

        • Leela December 11, 2012 at 5:11 am #

          In that case, when you fish it out, let some oil drain off before putting it on a plate. That should help get rid of some of the oil on the surface. If the oil is hot enough, the inside shouldn’t be oily. Let me know how it goes.

          • pilau January 2, 2013 at 2:02 am #

            So I did try it again and this time it was even worse – I think because I used some water to liquidize the cornstarch, where last time I squished all the lumps away. Regardless, I have a feeling that our stove is not powerful enough to sufficiently heat up the oil 🙁

            I think I just need to practice it some more.

  48. Sai January 1, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

    Hi Leela,

    Where did you purchase your wok (in the video). Looks like it’s coated?

    Thank you!
    Sai

    • Leela January 2, 2013 at 12:07 am #

      Sai, I don’t remember. Could be Bed, Bath & Beyond — I’m not sure. But yes, it’s a white nonstick coating.

  49. Ashley April 18, 2013 at 8:33 pm #

    This recipe turned out AMAZING. Just like I remember from living in Thailand. THANK YOU!

  50. pam May 1, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

    wow, I sure love your recipe. I just made two of these, my second one a bit better than the first. I added a bit of the beaten egg to the fish sauce, juice and starch to thin it out nicely before completely incorporating into the eggs. this is delicious, fast and fun. im looking forward to getting a smaller wok the size you advise, mine is a little too large, but I made it work. thanks for recipe! OXO

  51. Elayne July 3, 2013 at 10:20 pm #

    Is Oyster sauce similar at all to fish sauce? Or should I go and buy fish sauce before trying this?

    • Leela July 4, 2013 at 2:01 am #

      Elayne – No, they’re very different. I don’t recommend oyster sauce in this.

  52. Karel Lootens September 3, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    Hi,

    I was reading up on limestone water, would this traditionally have been used in this recipe to get crispness?
    I might give it a try anyway…

  53. Amy Pannotayan September 13, 2014 at 12:38 am #

    I absolutely love your blog! I have actually tried some of your recipes and they are AMAZING!

    As a proud Thai myself, I would have to say one of my favorite Thai dishes would have to be the Thai omelet!!! It is so simple, yet so delicious! I have a simple recipe of my own on my blog! http://potentialfoodie.wordpress.com

  54. Kirsty January 3, 2015 at 3:11 pm #

    How would you do this for two people? Double the quantities, in a larger pan? Or do two, one after the other?

    • Leela January 4, 2015 at 11:57 am #

      Kirsty – One at a time. You get far better results that way. Be sure to skim off any tiny eggy bits in the oil after each batch so they don’t burn. Also replenish the oil and restore the heat to the smoking point after each batch.

  55. Mary June 22, 2015 at 2:44 pm #

    When I lived in Bangkok, the restaurant across the street from my apartment (Baan PraChan) used to serve khai jiao over jasmine rice with a wonderful sauce on the side. In my mind, I always called this sauce maple syrup, because I am farang and it had the color and consistency of maple syrup (but not the flavor at all). Do you have any idea what this sauce could be or how I could purchase/make some? Also, I’ve tried three of your curry recipes this week and they’re perfect. I love them!

    • Leela June 22, 2015 at 6:48 pm #

      Mary – Most likely oyster sauce. I recommend that you buy a Thai brand to get the flavor you remember. Maekrua is one of the most widely available Thai brand out there.

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