If you’re craving that weekend Chinese take-out fix for breakfast this is your recipe. Egg Foo Young is the beloved Cantonese style omelet that can be easily tailored to your preferences with different fillings. The key is to understand how it’s different from its western cousin and how to achieve that difference. But first some background.
So what makes Egg Foo Young different from a western omelet?
- Texture. It’s puffy and frilled along the edges kinda like a party dress. This is achieved by putting a generous amount of vegetable oil in a hot wok or fry pan. The egg mixture hitting that hot oil will create the lift and bubbles along the edges that will give the eggs their characteristic appearance and texture. You are essentially frying it in the oil.
- Oil. Should be a neutral vegetable oil of your choice but not butter.
- Browning. Once the egg mixture goes into the pan it should brown on the bottom. The color delivers flavor so it should have some browning before you flip it.
- Flipping. After browning, you’ll flip the whole thing onto the other side as you would a pancake. It’s not a fold-over á la the French version. Best of all if it breaks that’s ok since you’ll cut it into pieces for serving after it comes out of the pan.
- Vegetables. The traditional veg used in Egg Foo Young includes bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, shitake mushrooms, green onions, shallots, and garlic. You can even add some thinly sliced chili peppers if you want some extra heat.
- Proteins. These can be chopped shrimp, leftover barbequed pork (char sui), or ground pork. If adding these you’ll want to saute them first before making the omelet.
For me, this involves a quick sauté of the proteins (if they are raw) and an even quicker cook for the veg. Remove from the pan, add a little more oil if necessary, let it get hot, then add the egg mixture. Place the filling in the center, and turn when the bottom is browned. Remove from the pan and blot the omelet if there’s too much oil on it.
For this recipe it’s important to keep in mind that the measurements for the fillings are approximate. More or less than what’s called for is not a deal-breaker so play it by ear.
If you’re making the optional American brown sauce (I didn’t this time) you can drizzle that over the egg, add some sesame seeds, a side of rice and enjoy!
- For the Omelette:
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon sesame oil
- ½ teaspoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon Shaoxing wine (optional)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil for the skillet (or more if needed)
- For the Proteins:
- 4 medium shrimp, diced or;
- ¼ cup ground pork or;
- ¼ cup Chinese barbequed pork, cut into small chunks
- For the Vegetables:
- 3 shitake mushrooms, sliced
- 2 tablespoons bean sprouts
- 2 green onion stalks, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon garlic, diced
- For the Sauce:
- ½ cup chicken broth
- 2 tsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon corn starch
- For the Omelette:
- Crack the eggs into a bowl, beat with a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients into the egg mixture, stir to combine well. Set aside.
- Heat wok and put oil in it.
- Quick fry whichever protein you are including and remove. Skip this if using cooked leftovers.
- Heat up a wok or a pan on high heat. Add more oil if necessary. When the oil is fully heated, ladle the egg mixture into the pan. Place the filling in the center.
- Let the omelet set, for about 3 minutes before flipping it over. Fry the omelet until both sides are golden brown and nicely puffed up.
- Serve immediately with steamed rice.
- For the sauce:
- Mix all ingredients and cook over low flame until thickened.