Staying at home during these very challenging times is making me crave all kinds of comfort food. I have not thought of or ordered egg foo young in years. Then all of a sudden I had a strong hankering for it!
Egg foo foung (or sometimes spelled egg foo yung) is a popular dish found in Chinese restaurants in the US. It is a fluffy savory omelette filled with vegetables and meat such as chicken, beef, bbq pork, seafood or tofu. It is then smothered in rich brown gravy. It is usually eaten with a side of rice. Talk about Asian comfort food!
Making an egg foo young that was as close in taste to Chinese takeout became my mission. I even ordered them from two restaurants twice to see how my home cooked egg foo young fared with ones prepared in Chinese restaurants.
It took me FIVE tries before I found what I thought was the best recipe. First I made it with minced chicken, then shrimp then the last 3 times just vegetables. The omelette itself is very easy to make. It is pretty much like making your garden-variety omelette for brunch but Asian-style.
Although egg foo young can be eaten by itself, what brings it to the next level is the gravy. And this is where I got stumped! I tried three recipes that I found on the internet. The tastes did not come close to Chinese takeout-version. Gravy Recipe #1 was too vinegary to my liking. Gravy Recipe #2 was too complicated, did not really have a depth of flavors and was laden with sodium! Gravy Recipe #3 was too sweet. (I sound like Goldilocks tasting egg food young gravy instead of porridge. LOL!) Thankfully, I found this recipe for gravy. Hers was the one I was looking for which tasted similar to Chinese takeout.
I also have Marie Kondo to thank for discovering how to make restaurant-version of egg foo young. Chinese take out egg foo young is slightly crispy and dense like pancakes while fluffy on the inside because they are deep-fried. I was content to cook egg foo young in a regular frying pan with just a little bit of oil. When I cooked egg foo young in a Chinese wok where I ended up deep-frying them — Bingo! My egg foo young looked and tasted as if I ordered them from takeout because they came out more like slightly crispy pancakes than brunch omelette.
Forgive my tangential thoughts — why thank Marie Kondo? Well, because of her, I was inspired to organize my space which is really the trendy thing to do during the pandemic. Ha! Ha! I found a long, lost wok in the back of my cupboard that I have not seen in years. I lovingly restored it to its sheen and have been using it a lot now.
Please see my notes below for more deets on egg foo young.
EASY EGG FOO YOUNG
Prep: 15 minutes | Cook: 15 minutes | Servings 3-4
- 6-8 large eggs
- *2 cups combination chopped vegetables of your choice such as bell peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, mung beans, cabbage, shredded carrots, red onion green peas, etc.
- OPTIONAL: 1 cup of any of the following: ground pork, sliced beef, sliced chicken, bbq pork, tofu, shrimp, (If using meat such as pork, ground pork, beef or chicken, use the following ingredients for seasoning: salt to taste or 2 tablespoon soy sauce, pepper to taste, 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon sesame oil (optional).
- 1/2 cup chopped green onions to add to vegetables. Leave some for toppings. (Optional but they will make egg foo young very tasty.)
- 1 tablespoon vegetable or peanut oil for frying. (If deep frying use 1 cup of oil or more depending on the size of your pan or wok.)
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce (optional)
- ¼ teaspoon sesame oil (optional)
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine (use *Mirin, rice wine vinegar or white vinegar if Shaoxing wine is not available )
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil or peanut oil
- 2 cloves garlic , chopped
- Mix together in a small bowl cornstarch, chicken broth, oyster sauce, Shaoxing wine (Mirin, rice wine vinegar or white vinegar if Shaoxing wine is not available), sesame oil, soy sauce and sugar. (If using Mirin, omit sugar or taste first before adding sugar as Mirin is already sweet.) Whisk until everything is dissolved. Set aside.
- In a sauce pan, fry minced garlic until golden brown.
- Add cornstarch mixture to fried garlic. Mix until cornstarch is dissolved.
- Heat to a gentle boil then simmer.
- Turn off heat and set aside.
- Whisk eggs in a bowl.
- If using meat such as ground pork, chicken or beef — season with soy sauce, sugar, pepper and sesame oil (optional). Marinate for 5-10 minutes (optional). Sear until brown. Let cool and set aside before adding to the egg mixture.
- Add vegetables and meat (if using). Mix throughly.
- IF USING A SKILLET, heat 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil or peanut oil a non stick skillet over medium heat.
- IF USING WOK, depending on the size of your work, heat 1/2 cup to 1 cup oil over medium-high to high heat.
- Ladle in 1/4 of batter into a round shape.
- Cook (or deep-fry if using wok) until golden (about 1 1/2 minutes) then flip and cook the other side for another minute until golden brown. Repeat with remaining egg mixture to make 4 omelette.
- Transfer to a plate. Pour brown gravy. Top with green onions if using.
- Serve with rice.
- Egg foo young is such a versatile dish. You can use just one type of vegetable such as bell peppers, with or without protein, etc. However, I consider this a “kitchen sink dish” where you can add anything that your heart desires such as all of the vegetables and meats that I mentioned above.
- The key is “less is more.” Do not overfill the omelette mixture with vegetables and protein.
- Traditional egg foo young ingredients are bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, cabbage, spring onions, mushrooms, and water chestnuts. I always want bean sprouts in my dish even if I do not have any of the other vegetables or protein.
- The difference between American omelette and egg foo young is egg foo young, while fluffy, is more dense and lightly browned. Instead of cooking it in low heat, higher heat is the key (medium for regular frying pan and high heat for wok.) “Overcooking the eggs” results in crispy yet fluffy eggs with a more pronounced flavor without burning it.
- I think egg foo young is one of the easiest dishes to make and healthy as well. I encourage you to not overthink it. Just make it and enjoy. You do not have to deep-fry egg foo young as well. Making it in a frying pan with little oil is okay, too. I cooked it both ways — with little oil in a frying pan and deep-fried in wok. Both versions were tasty. For me, the gravy is what takes this dish to the next level.
- And this is my biggest discovery — the addition of Shaoxing Wine or Chinese cooking wine was what made the gravy taste authentic like Chinese takeout or restaurant version. I would say find it if you can. I even found it at Safeway which is a main stream grocery chain in the Bay Area. If not, Mirin, rice wine vinegar or white vinegar should work as well.
- Recipe for egg foo young gravy was adapted from Omnivore’s Cookbook.