Egging on for weekend breakfasts

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Tomorrow morning I’ll have khai krata for breakfast, right?’ will inevitably pop up on Friday nights, more like a directive disguised as a question by Mr. P. I’ll always feign indignation, arguing why I should be tasked to cook on weekends when both of us are equally adept in the kitchen, but Mr. P knows he has hit a soft spot. The feeling of being able to cook up a simple breakfast of eggs and coffee for a loved one is especially gratifying, bringing a cheery start to weekend mornings.

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Khai krata (ไข่กระทะ) refers to pan-fried eggs served in mini aluminum pans. Available throughout the country, these sunny side up eggs are topped with the ingredients of Chinese sausages, muu yor (หมูยอ; Vietnamese-style boiled pork sausage), minced pork, scallions and fried onions. Unlike higher-end hotels that typically have egg stations in their all-day dining areas, it’s not uncommon for egg services—if they exist—to take the form of khai krata for guesthouses or local hotels in upcountry Thailand.

The khai krata obsession has gripped us both since we came back from our Isaan road trip in September. We had a delightful breakfast of khai krata at a local boutique hotel, Pen Ta Hug, in Ubon Ratchathani, sparking off the desire to get our own mini krata sets. Our chance came when we visited the Indochine Market at Mukdahan, a border trading town along the Mekong River with Laos’ Pakse on the opposite bank. At this riverside market stocked with cheap household items, toys and packaged snacks imported from China (which border market in Southeast Asia isn’t flooded with Chinese goods?), we browsed the stalls and found the aluminum pans that we were looking for. These pans were cheap—somewhere between 25 baht and 35 baht each—and now I regretted getting only a pair.

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The kratas are such a darling to work with. Light and thermally responsive, the aluminum pans heat up fast and any knob of butter spooned onto it will start sizzling in no time. Crack an egg into the pan, followed by generous sprinklings of diced muu yor and Chinese sausages, before adding chopped scallions and fried onions as garnishes.

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Of course there’s no fast and fixed rule that only these sausage duo can go into the pan with the egg. I ran out of muu yor one weekend and used ham to substitute the pork sausage, but it just tasted different. Ham is more suited with cheese just as muu yor is more suited with Chinese sausage. But it’s entirely up to one’s preferences.

The next step? Make yourself a nice, warm cup of thick coffee and you’re on your way to a great weekend.

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Naem Neung: a Vietnamese turned Thai food

Despite its Vietnamese origin, naem nueng (Vietnamese fresh spring roll) is Udon Thani’s most famous food export. While Vietnamese immigrants have been moving to Thailand’s Mekong River provinces since the French colonial years, the region, or, specifically Udon Thani, isn’t famous for naem nueng until the recent decades. Word has it that a group of Vietnamese descendents, who originally settled in Nong Khai, made famous naem nueng in Thailand when they opened a restaurant selling this specialty in neighboring Udon Thani.

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