Heirloom Kaeng Khae recipe from Chiang Khong
Here's very different and delicious North Thai Kaeng Khae recipe, and it's made with barbecued frog.
Not every kaeng khae recipe has frog – it's a mixed leaf and vegetable curry and you can use many base meats for it – beef, chicken, pork etc or you can even keep it vegan/vegetarian. As it's thickened with ground roasted rice, it's also gluten free.
This kaeng khae recipe is a 'curry' of many different freshly picked leaves, flowers and vegetables which is thickened with ground roasted rice and scented with toasted dry red chillies.
Kaeng Khae is a pretty special dish and not so common on the usual Thai menus in restaurants.
A Kaeng Khae recipe is a really great choice if you've got access to a garden full of edible herbs, flowers and vegetables, or a fresh Asian market.
This kaeng khae recpe was made for me at home in rural North Thailand, where I spent 4 months living and documenting the local dishes on this site. I was told we were going to eat 'barbecued frog' and the dish was a mystery until almost the very end.
As a rule of thumb, the average Kaeng Khae recipe uses one type of meat only – and it doesn't have to be frog.
The frog version was delicious though. Perhaps even ranking in my top 5 Thai dishes that I've tasted.
With the flowers, sticks, herbs and vegetables, you don't need to use the same ones listed here.
They're just a guide.
The whole idea of the dish is that it's made with lots of freshly picked stuff from the garden.
Here's the step-by-step recipe of the frog version that was made for me.
Kaeng Khae recipe ingredients (serves 4 )
- 2 ea whole bbq frogs skin on. (you can use other meat, or keep it vegetarian or vegan if you prefer)
- Hung wai – the white things in the bowl that look like a cross between palm heart and bamboo.
- Betel leaves – “bai chorpoo” (Pepper leaf, or La Lot leaf)
- Kaffir lime leaf
- Large Thai Eggplant (apple eggplant)
- Small Thai pea egg plant
- Pak tam leung – a type of creeping morning glory
- Ja-kaan – a local North Thai aromatic wood used in cooking
- Galangal flower Dok kha
- 1-2 tbsp roasted dry red chilli flakes (See my tom saap recipe for method)
- 100g / ½ cup ground roasted rice khao krua
- 25g fresh garlic, peeled & crushed 2 tbsp
- 750ml Water 3 cups
- 30ml Cooking oil 2 tbsp
At first the frogs look and smell really grim. It really worried me. That will cook out and they will taste & smell amazing
- Chop the frogs into large chunks
- Cut the Ja-kaan wood into small pieces then split into quarters. Mix the wood with the chunks of frog.
- Get your greens ready – like in the photo above and below.
- Heat a wok or frying pan and sauté the garlic & roasted chilli for 1-2 minutes till aromatic
- Add the frog and chunks of ja-kaan wood. Add a little water to the wok and stir. This will stir any tasty garlic and roasted chilli that sticks to the pan back into the ‘sauce’
- Put the water in a saucepan, and move the frog, wood and ‘sauce’ from the wok/pan into the potful of water
- Add the slower cooking ingredients (hung wai, thai eggplants, & kaffir lime leaves)
- Simmer gently for 5-10 minutes
- Add the betel leaves, galangal flowers, and quick cooking greens
- Now thicken it by stirring the ground roasted rice in.
This is a tasty garlic chilli, frog & wood sauce already – just a bit thin and runny right now.
ground roasted rice ('khao krua') first.
It doesn't get written down, and it's is one that most foreigners and city people don't know about.
It’s ok –they don’t retain that smell or appearance when cooked using this Kaeng Khae recipe.
defines this dish.
A celebration of local culture and family cooking, but knife and fork ready.