five-spice stew w/ hard boiled eggs & tofu (kai palo)

Another signature Thai dish!  You will have to go local though to find and taste this sweet, salty and spicy, dark-brownish egg stew.


Traditionally a pork stew, but you can leave out pork and simply add more eggs (my husband loves those brown soaked eggs!). Despite looking exotic and complex, this dish is actually easy to learn and a show off dish for the rest of your life!

'Palo' in Thai stands for 5 spices, 'kai' for egg.

ingredients (4 ppl)

5 eggs, hard boiled, unshelled

1 tsp pepper 

5 cloves garlic

3 coriander (cilantro) roots (optional)

2 tbsp Chinese five spices blend 

3 firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes 

2 cinnamon sticks

3 star anises

25 g coriander, finely chopped

2 tbsp unrefined palm sugar

1 tb soy sauce

2 tbsp cooking oil 

5 cups water

You could make your own spice mix (basic ingredients are anise star and cinnamon, the other 3 (or more) spices might vary), however I like the commercial one from Lobo, a Thai brand. It misses out on a few essential spices, but some extra cinnamon sticks and star anises will kick in lots of aroma. I also add some coriander (cilantro) roots, which give that extra fresh flavor. 


Pound garlic, pepper and coriander in a semi-rough paste.

Preheat a pan to a medium. Add oil.

Add the pounded paste, sauté for a minute until the fragrance comes out.

Add palm sugar and stir until melted and brown coloured.

Add the five spices blend and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

Add all anise.

Place this vegetable-herb blend into a pot (medium heat) and add water.

Add tofu and all eggs. We usually cook for another 7 to 10 mintues, so the tofu and eggs can take on the stew flavour.

Meanwhile taste the stew for sweetness and adjust with soy sauce (savory) or palm sugar (sweet) if necessary.

Turn off the heat and season with coriander.