Bloomberg – Chef John Chantarasak grew up in the United Kingdom (UK) with his British mother and Thai father. He well remembers annual childhood visits to the family home in Bangkok, where he came to love spicy dishes cooked with the freshest of ingredients.
He later moved to Thailand and studied cooking at Le Cordon Bleu Dusit Culinary School before working in restaurants, including the fine-dining Thai establishment Nahm under chef David Thompson. John was sous chef at Som Saa in London before creating AngloThai – a roving pop-up restaurant – with his wife Desiree. (He’s currently in residency at Newcomer Wines in Dalston.)
For Bloomberg, he has supplied a recipe for yum khai dao, fried-egg salad with celery leaf and sweet-spicy-tart dressing. “The Thais love eggs and this dish is very popular at homes in Thailand, though you don’t see it so much on restaurant menus,” he said.
“This is a loose rendition of one we eat in our family. I think it’s appropriate for the UK, where you often get big salads, but this is light and fresh and herbal, with sweet, spicy, salty and sour flavours.” The recipe serves two as a side dish and one as a meal.
I found the recipe very straightforward and I loved the taste and the contrasting textures. If I were to attempt it again, I would probably reduce the sugar a bit, and I struggled with the heat from just two bird’s eye chilies, rather than the three John favours.
YUM KHAI DAO
For the dressing:
Two tbsp palm sugar
One tbsp water
Three tbsp fish sauce
Three tbsp lime juice (half a lime)
One garlic clove, peeled and thinly sliced
Three bird’s eye chilies, thinly sliced. (Add less or more depending on how spicy you like it.)
For the dish:
Two large free range hen’s eggs
Vegetable oil for frying
Half small white onion, thinly sliced with the grain of the onion
One tomato, chopped roughly into eight pieces
Small handful of coriander, leaf and stem roughly chopped
Small handful of Asian celery, stem thinly sliced and leaves picked. (If you can’t find Asian celery then use the inner sticks of a celery head with the leaves.)
Wild garlic flowers (optional, to garnish)
Make the dressing by combining the palm sugar, water, fish sauce and lime juice.
Whisk everything so that the palm sugar is completely dissolved. Add the sliced garlic and chilies. It should taste sweet, spicy and tart.
Crack the eggs into ramekins ensuring not to break the yolks. Heat two centimetres (0.8 inch) of vegetable oil in a pan. Once the oil starts to smoke, gently slide an egg into the hot oil.
The egg will immediately start to spit, crackle and bubble so be careful. The whites will puff and develop large transparent bubbles; the bottom and edges will get brown and crispy.
Fry for about one minute. Flip the egg and allow to cook for a few seconds before transferring to absorbent paper to drain any excess oil. Repeat the process with the second egg.
Add the sliced onion, tomato, celery and coriander to a mixing bowl with the dressing.
Cut the eggs into quarters, trying to avoid cutting through the runny yolks. Add to the
mixing bowl and gently toss everything together.
Transfer to a plate and pour the dressing over. Serve with steamed jasmine rice.