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CraveShould I Eat This?

Ant eggs give omelet lots of ‘pop’

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KRYSTLE MARCELLUS / KMARCELLUS@STARADVERTISER.COM

Kai Mod Dang (ant eggs).

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KIM YUEN / KYUEN@STARADVERTISER.COM

Red ant eggs are the key ingredient in this Thai omelet.

Don’t call Terminix.

In the frozen-food sections of some markets in Chinatown, you can find packages of something called kai mod deng. In the Thai and Lao languages, “kai” means egg, “mod” is ant and “deng” is red … red ant eggs.

Ant eggs are a common food in Laos and Thailand, especially in northern and northeastern Thailand, which is likely where the frozen ant eggs originate.

The packages sell for $7 or $8 for 8 ounces in stores that cater to Southeast Asian immigrants.

They are labeled fish food, “not for human consumption.” But no one feeds it to fish, says my friend Pou Perrotta, owner of Sala Thai Restaurant and Bar on Nuuanu Avenue.

It’s too hard to gather and too good to eat for that, Perrotta said.

The ants nest high in mango and other trees, and it’s inevitable to get bitten when gathering the eggs.

“The only fish that could eat it are in my stomach,” Perrotta laughs.

She made me kai jiao kai mod deng, a Thai ant egg omelet.

First the ant eggs are defrosted and washed, a process similar to washing rice. A few red ant bodies come along with the eggs.

Chicken eggs, fish sauce, pepper, fried garlic, green onions and the ant eggs are stirred together. The green onions help cut the smell of the ant eggs, Perrotta said.

The egg mix goes into a smoking-hot pan of vegetable oil and is cooked until the edges brown, then it’s flipped.

The omelet is served with sliced cucumbers and garnished with more green onions. A mixture of chilies, fish sauce and lime juice — called prik nam pla — is an optional sauce.

I take a bite. It mostly tastes like a crunchy omelet, crisp on the outside because it was cooked in hot oil.

The ant eggs add very little taste. But they do pop, like ikura (salmon eggs), when you bite into one. Eaten individually, the ant eggs have a slight fishy and nutty taste.

The prik nam pla is excellent with eggs, adding spicy, salty and sour notes.

Would I eat it again? Ant eggs are apparently high in protein, so I guess they are good for you. If the dish was served to me again, yes, I would eat it and enjoy it.


Web producer Craig Gima likes to try new foods. In a new video and print series called “Should I eat it?” Craig shares some of his more unusual food finds.


6 responses to “Ant eggs give omelet lots of ‘pop’”

  1. Hookupaa says:

    No thanks.

  2. oiwi808 says:

    “They are labeled fish food, not for human consumption.” So we’ll just serve it to people anyway

    • dragoninwater says:

      Most of the beef at Taco Bell isn’t even suitable for human consumption, so how could this be any worse? Let’s not forget Jack-In-The-Box serving wally (kangaroo) burgers in the 1980’s till they got caught. Should have called the burgers Joey-in-a-Pouch! haaaa

  3. Keonigohan says:

    Anyone can have my share TYVM!.

  4. IvanTamanaha says:

    My friend lives in northern Thailand and swears freshly gathered ant eggs are cooked into heavenly and very delicious dishes.

  5. lokela says:

    C’mon SA take this article offline already. One day okay but I read the news for current day stuff.

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