A Bit of Omelet History
Although the French coined the term omelette in the sixteenth century, various incarnations of egg “pancakes” filled with meat or vegetables and seasonings have existed since ancient times. Furthermore, the dish ancient Persians feasted upon probably bore more resemblance to Egg Foo Yung (and Italian frittatas for that matter) than the classic French omelette, with its moist interior and modest amount of filling.
Ancient Persian omelets were probably similar to modern-day Kookoo , made by mixing up “a generous amount of chopped herbs into beaten eggs, frying it in a round pan until it is firm and then (usually) cutting it into wedges for serving” (Source: The Oxford Companion to Food by Alan Davidson, 1999, p. 553).
Egg Foo Yung OriginsWhile Egg Foo Yung was born in American Chinese restaurants in the mid-1800's, its inspiration likely comes from Shanghai cuisine. Fu Yung Egg Slices is an elaborate Shanghai recipe made with beaten egg whites and minced ham, possibly named for the lotus flower. A northern Chinese version replaces the ham with minced chicken breast. From these dishes came the Egg Foo Yung many of us remember enjoying in Chinese-American restaurants throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s - a deep-fried pancake filled with eggs, vegetables and meat or seafood. Today, homemade Egg Foo Yung is normally pan-fried instead.
Next Page - Egg Foo Yung Recipes and Cooking Tips
All it takes is a few eggs, crisp vegetables and Asian seasonings to create an elegant dish that is perfect for breakfast, a main entrée or late night snack. All of the recipes below have a simple accompanying sauce/gravy that is easy to make – you can make it or leave it out as desired.
Egg Foo Yung Cooking Tips
- For extra flavor, prepare a sauce: Egg Foo Yung is one of the few Chinese dishes where a sauce is prepared separately and served over it. The Brown Sauce that frequently accompanies Beef with Broccoli works well with this dish.
- Use your imagination when choosing fillings. There are no hard and fast rules about what ingredients go into Egg Foo Yung: Chinese sausage, barbecued pork, shrimp, and even tofu are all popular. For vegetables, mushrooms, onion, and green onion are frequently used. For me, it wouldn’t be egg foo yung without lots of crunchy mung bean sprouts!
- To coax more flavor out of the vegetables, blanch or stir-fry before adding to the egg mixture, even if the recipe doesn't call for it. Make sure blanched vegetables are well drained.
- Lightly beat the eggs, but not enough so that bubbles form.
- Thinly slice the meat and vegetables for more even cooking.
- Do not add the other ingredients to the egg in the pan. Instead, mix them together with the egg before cooking.
- Make sure the pan is hot enough so that the egg mixture cooks properly.
- If making a sauce, prepare it first and keep warm while cooking the Egg Foo Yung.
- Form the eggs into small pancakes or one large pancake.
Egg Foo Yung Recipes
Shrimp Egg Foo Yung - an easy recipe made with fish sauce (you can use soy sauce instead).
Spicy Egg Foo Yung with Shrimp - another easy recipe, made with packaged white sauce, posted on our forum by Kitchenpanhands.
Stir-fried Egg Foo Yung - A hearty dish with Chinese sausage (lop cheong) and vegetables.
Restaurant Style Egg Fu Yung - In this recipe the Egg Fu Yung is deep-fried, giving it a light and airy texture.
Egg Foo Yung – Deep and Pan-fried - The author shows the same recipe cooked two different ways
Egg Foo Yung with Mealworms - Not for the squeamish! from the The Food Insects Newsletter (on page 3)
And finally, forum poster Jo-Ann has a suggestion for a quick and easy egg/rice pancake:
"I mix whatever amount of rice is needed with enough egg to make it the consistency of a pancake. Add some thinly sliced scallions and a little light soy sauce. Fry big spoonfuls of the mixture in some oil, flattening them out as they are placed in the pan. That's it. If the rice is allowed to soak up the egg a bit, then the pancake has less egg runoff.”
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