Like in many cultures, cooking eggs in Thai kitchen is perhaps the first test for any novice cook. Omelette in our kitchen is not necessarily just a symbol of breakfast but an egg dish can appear in any meals. It is even a main dish on its own like Khao Kai Jiaw or Omelette Rice, a classic popular one-dish meal. Egg cooking is a preferred accompaniment to many spicy dishes with the idea to tone down the hotness or balance up the sharp-acidic, tangy and strong tastes.
It goes beyond just simply egg; cooking Thai omelette signifies certain character and personality of a person. For a girl, the omelette that looks rather thin and doesn’t appear with certain colours and brownness is an embarrassment. It magnifies the home background that the person had hardly been involved in the basic kitchen practice (and that she spent time on something else or somehow spoilt) – a character that is not quite ‘a good lady’ like. And if the person is a man, the lack of good egg cooking ability implies as if the person doesn’t really possess a good basic living skill – pampered - he wouldn’t survive without the help of his mother!
A good omelette reflects a cook’s attention and an exceptional one means the more delicateness, thoughtfulness and experiences behind this simple dish that can be surprisingly quite difficult to make. The many stories were repeated timelessly, especially during the early era before non-stick pans were invented and therefore this basic food would require a bit of one’s attention over the sensitive ingredients and spontaneous cooking heat.
Among the many Thai folk tales evolving around the Egg Principle, the most memorable one that I love is a great hit song during the 80’s, with title translated as ‘Mr Omelette’. A rather funky, fun-jazzy melody, written by a young contemporary artist. The song lyric begins with the most comprehensive explanation of recipe in making exceptional omelette, the delicate way of cracking eggs and beating it, the technique in heating oil, the observation on how to look at the heating oil without burning oneself, how to eat it and even the tip on whisking the egg to floppiness – from beginning to the end of the perfect simple dish. ‘An egg’ that is amazingly and cleverly elaborated into a masterpiece of music and lyrics. The song is basically about an ordinary man who made a great-extraordinary life learnt and materialised from making omelette for a living. A self-made millionaire from egg cooking. A true story.
The omelette philosophy in Thai culture that encourages a middle-way of living life is big; it goes deeper than the simple cooking technique. It equates the equivalent saying in English someone has said where the line reads something like: ‘One doesn’t have to do extraordinary thing: just do an ordinary thing extraordinarily well’.
Omelette with cherry tomatoes
Omelette with minced pork
Omelette with shrimps
Omelette with white onion and chive
Crispy fried egg with fish sauce
Salted egg salad
Mixed green salad with egg and peanut sauce
Fried hard-boiled egg with shallots and tamarind sauce
Egg and dill soup with lemon grass broth
Omelette stuffed with sweet and sour filling
Phad Thai noodle wrapped in omelette
Steamed egg with pork and vermicelli
Stir-fried pumpkin with egg
Stir-fried bitter-gourd with egg
Sauté sponge-gourd with egg and basil
Stir-fried vermicelli, pickled garlic and egg
Egg custard with coconut sticky rice
Quail egg in ginger syrup
Egg silk threads with jasmine syrup