They look like small, white beans but if you look close enough, these little ‘beans’ may be red ant larvae.
The eggs are soft and juicy with a slightly sour lemony taste or a very mild sour taste a bit like lime and full of nutrients. Kai Mot Daeng is most commonly eaten in northern and eastern Thailand as well as in Laos. Ant eggs are bigger than one might imagine and they’re tastier as well. The prized eggs can only be collected in the dry season between March and May and can go for as much as 500 baht a kilo. It’s a once a year delicacy – yummy red ants eggs! The ant eggs are harvested from mango trees using a long bamboo pole with a plastic bag on the end lined with flour, to prod at the nests. The ants and the eggs fall into the traps then are separated on a tray with the ants allowed to return to the trees to make more nests, making his a very sustainable ‘crop’.
Red Ant eggs are a very versatile and nutritious food whether eaten on their own or as an ingredient in recipes. Apart from being as freshly consumed as a red ant egg salad there are a variety of cooked dishes. The eggs are made into a curry and often used instead of chopped pork in omelettes. Kai Jiaw Kai Mot refers to fried with eggs or Gaeng Kai Mot Daeng which is a soup variation. Kai Mot Daeng Op is lightly salted ant eggs wrapped in banana leaves and roasted. But the most famous dish that people just can’t get enough of is Yam Khai Mot Daeng or red ants eggs prepared in a spicy salad style. The eggs are mixed with red onions, regular onions, spring onions, coriander, hot chillies, and chopped together. Then they are flavored with fish sauce, lime juice and sugar to give the three flavors the dish is famous for, salty sour and sweet.