Thai Fried Omelet

Paige Green © 2014
With two eggs on hand, you can make a fried egg banh mi (banh mi trung) -- breakfast for many people and my own favorite anytime food. The default is to make sunny-side up eggs or a French-style omelet, but I like to fry the eggs Thai style, in hot oil, for a fluffy, golden brown omelet with a bit of crispness. It's brilliant, simple cooking.

  • 2 pinches of black or white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons canola oil
In a bowl, stir or whisk together the pepper, cornstarch, fish sauce, and water. Add the eggs and beat or whisk well to combine. Set aside.

Heat a wok or a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil to thickly film the bottom (thick as a bean sprout). Heat until the oil is very hot, nearly smoking; a drop of egg dabbed into the oil should immediately sizzle and bloom.

Pour in the egg (from as high as 12 inches / 30 cm if you love drama). It should spread and puff like a self-inflating raft. Use a spatula to pull and push the edges toward the middle, allowing excess egg to flow out into the oil to expand the size of the omelet. Expect a crazy shape and uneven texture.

When the omelet has nearly set (it's still wet but not jiggly), raise the heat to medium-high or high. Fry for about 1 minute, until the edges are golden and the bottom browns a bit. Use one or two spatulas to flip the omelet over. Cook for 30 to 60 seconds longer, or until the bottom picks up some browning. If you like, briefly refry the first side. 

Drain and cool the omelet on a rack. Blot excess oil with paper towels, if you like, then fold it over before sliding into bread for banh mi.


Let this omelet fly solo in a Thai fried omelet banh mi with all the fixings, or use it with another filling, such as the grilled portobello or the sardine and tomato sauce. Make 3 or 4 omelets for a round of banh mi lettuce wraps, cutting the omelet into bite-size pieces and drizzling on some spicy hoisin sauce.

Revive a cold omelet in a toaster oven preheated to 375°F (190°C) for 5 to 6 minutes, flipping midway.
Makes enough for 1 sandwich
  • When it comes to cooking sausage, it's all about heat management

    "If you're going to grill, you can mark it first on a hotter part of the grill," says Chris Ying, editor in chief of Lucky Peach and co-author of The Wurst of Lucky Peach. "Then move it to the cooler, indirect heat to finish cooking gently and slowly, and let all of those fats and everything break down inside of the sausage."

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Host Francis Lam wins multiple 2017 James Beard Media Awards

Host Francis Lam won several awards at the 2017 James Beard Foundation Media Awards for his work as food writer and cookbook editor.