kai kaem

Thai salted eggs - kai kaem

Exciting! I made these last year - something that I'd never made before and not sure I'd ever eaten before - and it took 30 days' patience until they were ready to try.

Salted eggs. Originally brined as a preserving method, they have a salty white and a rich yolk and are boiled before being used in recipes or cooked to have with rice or congee.  You can just cook them with the rice for the last few minutes in the saucepan or in a rice cooker - sounds like the simplest meal ever to me and I can't wait to try it.

I have to say there wasn't anything immediately appealing to me about 'salted eggs' until I applied a little logic - which is that I love eggs and I always always put salt on them.  But the main reason I'm making these is because there are so many delicious sounding recipes that call for them.

My friend Kevin, who is fluent in Thai (both spoken and written) recently volunteered (and I bet he'll soon wish he hadn't) to translate some recipes for me from a Thai cookbook.  He sent me the translated  list of contents to choose something from.

I was going to start with the Fish Stomach recipe (still intend to give this a go at some point) but decided on 'squid fried with salted egg on rice', not realising that the salted egg was an ingredient in itself.  However instead of setting off for the Thai supermarket to get some I thought I'd investigate making salted eggs at home.

Once made, I'll be cooking the fried squid dish as well as trying cooking my salted eggs in the rice cooker, and I want to make a spicy sour salad with them too.

You'll need:

1-2 cups of water depending on the size of your jar

1/4 cup of salt

a piece of star anise

3-6 duck eggs preferably as the yolks are bigger and richer or chicken eggs like me (too impatient to wait to get to a bigger shop for duck eggs I bought chicken eggs from the corner shop this evening)

a jar in which the eggs should fit quite snugly


Put the water, salt and star anise in a saucepan and bring to the boil.

When boiling stir until the salt has fully dissolved and then immediately remove from the heat and cool completely.


Rinse the eggs and pat dry with a tea towel ...


... and check for cracks (don't use cracked ones) before putting them carefully into the jar.


Pour the cold brine over the eggs. They all need to be submerged in the liquid so if any float above the surface a good trick is to put some water in a sandwich or freezer bag and lay this on top to push the eggs under the brine. I actually didn't have quite enough water so just topped up the last inch with tap water (hope this works ok).

Put a lid on the jar and store at room temperature.

Leave for 30 days, then remove and keep in the fridge until using.