Tuesday, February 02, 2016
Thai-Style Eggs with a Country Twang
The complex flavors of Thai cuisine are intoxicating, the perfect combination of salty, sweet, sour and bitter, with a big hunk of umami thrown in. I'm also a lifelong egg fiend, having perfected scrambled eggs when I was around eight, so Real Good Food contributor Jim Dixon's recipe for a Thai-style omelet topped by country gravy was a must-try. See what you think.
I was watching the Sriracha documentary last week, and in one short segment a cook pours beaten eggs into a hot wok. The eggs puff up dramatically and get nicely browned. The next morning I started experimenting. I beat two eggs with a little water, figuring the steam created would help the omelet get puffy. I heated a nice slick of extra virgin olive oil in one of my smallest cast iron skillets, dropped a tiny bit of the egg into the oil as a test (this was in the movie), and poured in the eggs. The omelet immediately bubbled up, threatening to spill from the skillet. But it didn't, and I was able to flip it over, finish cooking, and eat it for breakfast.
After my first attempt, I did a little googling. Recipes for Thai omelettes (called Khai Jiao) are everywhere and, like a lot of traditional foods, opinions vary. Some call for added cornstarch or rice flour, some insist on ground pork, others add lime juice or vinegar, but all agree that fish sauce is essential. Since I liked my first one, I keep it simple by just adding the fish sauce. Here's my version.
Puffy Thai-style Omelet with Fish Sauce and Country Gravy
Beat an egg (a single egg makes a six inch omelette that's easy to turn) with about a teaspoon of water and a few shakes of good fish sauce (preferably Red Boat). Use enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a smallish skillet or wok, and heat it over medium high for a minute or two. You want it very hot but not quite smoking. Drop a tiny bit of the egg mixture into the oil; if it sizzles and bubbles up, it's ready, and you can pour in the rest.
The egg will quickly puff up around the edges. Let it cook for about a minute; when the center is nearly set, use a pair a spatulas to flip it over. Let it cook another 30 seconds or so, then slide the omelet onto a plate. Sprinkle with salt, add your favorite hot sauce, or bring a little of the Deep South to SE Asia and top the omelet with country gravy.
To make country gravy (aka milk or sausage gravy), cook a half pound of ground pork in a cast iron skillet, breaking it up with a spatula as it cooks. Add a few tablespoons of flour and cook for a few minutes to get rid of the raw flour taste. Stir in about a cup of whole milk (a splash of cream, creme fraiche, or half-and-half won't hurt) and let the gravy come to a boil. Turn down the heat and let it cook for a few more minutes, then add salt and a lot of freshly ground black pepper. Spoon some over your omelet, or almost anything.