Ant egg soup is a traditional North-Eastern Thai and Laotian delicacy prepared using ant eggs combined with snakehead fish, garlic, galangal, lemon grass, tamarind bean, lime juice, basil leaves, tomatoes and fish stock. The ant eggs used consist of both the eggs and pupae of weaver ants (commonly called red ants in Thailand).
Ant eggs are relished for their sourness and pop flavor when consumed with soups, omelettes and salads. The ants provide the dish with a sour taste, and the eggs give it a nutty flavor.
Ant eggs are known to be packed with protein and also contain other minerals, including calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, potassium, vitamin B1, vitamin B2 and niacin. It is also believed to contain less fat and calories compared to chicken eggs.
While some people can be seen describing the dish’s taste as a bit like shrimp, many have suggested that it tastes similar to a prawn dish.
Origin & Cultural Significance
Ant egg soup, also known as Gaeng Kai Mot Daeng, is a seasonal soup. The red weaver ants lay their eggs in mango trees and coconut palms in the months of April and May. The ants are generally collected from the mountain areas, rubber fields, and palm fields.
Farming for red ant eggs is believed to be a beneficial, low-cost business for poor communities. One can easily find the canned version of these eggs throughout the country. Because they are very hard to find, these ants and their larvae are sold for about $5 USD per pound.
Also believed to be an emblem of rural life, today the popularity of ant egg soup is fading in the younger generations.
Many people cook these ants and eggs along with coconut milk, which makes the dish creamy and aromatic and also makes it a little sweet.
- Pork ribs (cut in a bite size) - 500g
- Water - 2L
- Salt - 1 tbsp
- Thin soy sauce - 1 tbsp
- Fresh ginger - 10 slices
- MSG (optional) - ½ tsp
- Wild phakwan (only leaves) - 100g
- Ant eggs - 1 small bowl
- Begin by taking a large pot. Add water and add a little bit of salt, ginger, MSG (if using) and thin soya sauce.
- Bring the water to a boil, and while it’s boiling, throw in the pork ribs. Allow it to boil again and lower the flame to medium-low.
- Let the dish cook until the pork becomes tender. This should take you about 1 hour.
- When the meat is done, turn up the heat to high. Add wild-phakwan and ant eggs.
- Let the dish cook for another 5 minutes. If needed, taste and adjust the flavours according to your preference. And there you have it. Your ant egg soup is ready to be served.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 569Total Fat: 41gSaturated Fat: 12gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 18gCholesterol: 178mgSodium: 2131mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 30g