Faux Pok (Pok): Making yam khai dao at home

Yam Khai Dao/Fried Egg Salad/Pok Pok

Fried Egg Salad (yam khai dao) from the Pok Pok Cookbook

Last year was the year for Portland cookbooks. In fact it seemed like every time I went on Eater, another chef had landed a deal and was working on a book. In the final few months of 2013, several well-known local talents, like chefs Gabe Rucker and John Gorham, released books that were hot commodities all over the country.

Most of the books I was content to just flip through at Powells, but there was one that had to be mine — Andy Ricker’s cookbook for his nationally acclaimed restaurant Pok Pok. Pok Pok is a place dedicated to Thai street food, made famous by their incredible fish sauce chicken wings. After a few very successful years, Pok Pok became so popular that Ricker opened several new restaurants throughout town (all with a slightly different Thai spin) and even opened a spot in NYC.

And while I, like most people, love the Pok Pok wings, the one dish I always, always order is the yam khai dao or fried egg salad. It was hard to put my finger on why I love it so much but after reading Ricker’s description of the dish, I solved the mystery.

The vinaigrette that dresses the greens, herbs and crispy egg is perfectly balanced. There is heat fire from the Thai chiles, a bit of funk from the fish sauce, sweetness from the palm sugar simple syrup and zing from the lime juice. It’s one of those dishes that sucks you in from the first bite and you just can’t stop eating it. Or thinking about it. Or craving it.

So, of course, it was the first dish I had to make from the cookbook.

Disclaimer: While I would absolutely recommend buying yourself a copy of this book, you can find a copy of this recipe here.

I started by sourcing all of my ingredients, which necessitated a special trip to the Asian market for Thai fish sauce, Chinese celery, a disc of palm sugar and Thai chiles. The rest of the items were already in my fridge: lime, onion, garlic, carrots, lettuce and cilantro. And of course, two eggs.

Yam Khai Dao/Fried Egg Salad/Pok Pok

Once the hunting and gathering was completed, the fun began.

The recipe has one sub-recipe for the vinaigrette: a palm sugar simple syrup, which was, well, simple. It’s basically a few ounces of palm sugar melted in water.

Palm Sugar

I even got the kitchen scale out for this one!

The simple syrup recipe makes about a quarter cup, but only a few teaspoons are needed for the egg salad. Happily the rest is excellent in cocktails.

Next up is veg prep — some mincing, some chopping and a little bit of julienne.

Yam Khai Dao/Fried Egg Salad/Pok Pok

Once the mise en place is taken care of, it’s time to fry up the eggs. According to Ricker these can be made up to 15 minutes in advance. The most important part is frying them over high heat so the eggs get a nice crispy crust. Just don’t overcook them — you want the yolks almost set, no more.

Once they have rested for a few minutes, cut each egg into quarters.

High heat, plenty of oil and cooked until the yolk is barely set.

High heat, plenty of oil and cooked until the yolk is barely set.

In a large pan, or wok, warm up the dressing. Then add in the eggs, veggies and herbs and toss gently to coat. Note: This isn’t a warm, wilted salad but neither is it a cold salad — don’t cook the greens and herbs, just get the chill off.

Final step — plate up and dig in!

Yam Khai Dao/Fried Egg Salad/Pok Pok

Yam Khai Dao/Fried Egg Salad/Pok Pok

Yam Khai Dao/Fried Egg Salad/Pok Pok


14 thoughts on “Faux Pok (Pok): Making yam khai dao at home

    • Get the book! It’s so fantastic — very informative with the ingredients and recipes but also full of fun stories about the chef’s travels. I have already made this salad twice now and a few nights ago, I made the pork fried rice. It was so good! I’m trying to decide on recipe #3 to try next week.

  1. Amazing…I came to WordPress specifically looking for some type of Asian salad and this was the first post that appeared in my reader! I have read about the Pok Pok cookbook and will probably need to buy it now. I think I will try this recipe this weekend. Sounds so tasty!

    • Yay! I hope you give this one a try. It’s so easy to throw together and the flavor is just incredible. The sweetness was part of it that I couldn’t figure out before. Now I’m hooked on the palm sugar simple syrup. I’m already gearing up to choose the next recipe to recreate!

    • Thanks! The egg is my favorite part of this. It soaks up the sweet/spicy dressing so perfectly — sounds like it would be weird but instead it almost transforms the egg in a totally new way. I’m going to keep trying recipes from the book so we’ll see if they continue to be as successful. My fingers are crossed!

  2. The book has been sitting in my kitchen since Christmas, looking more and more disapprovingly at me because I haven’t yet gotten brave enough to try a recipe from it (every single one of which look delicious). We even went to a market—which we thought was a Thai market until we saw all the Aung San Suu Kyi posters … duh … though now that I think about it, I have hardly cracked the Burma cookbook that I’ve had much longer either)—and bought a lot of the ingredients. Soon. Very soon.

    • It took me a long time to start — I’ve had my copy since Christmas too. But a girl at my work (who also has the book) had been talking non-stop about how delicious the fried rice recipe is and so I figured I better get on with it. The fried egg recipe is so just easy I can’t stop making it. Next up is the wings!

  3. Pingback: Pork fried rice finds perfection, Pok Pok style | Attempts in Domesticity

    • Do it! And keep me posted! It’s perfect for a light summer dinner. And I like the leftovers too — everything still seems to retain its texture and the spice really permeates into it.

        • Yeah, other people might not like the leftovers as much, but for some reason I think it tastes almost as good. I’ve actually been known to make it at night for breakfast the next day (bc I’m weird like that). If you do that, just don’t add the lettuce. Everything else will be fine. The eggs will be ah-maz-ing. I promise. 🙂

Leave a comment, question or reply!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s