Egg foo yung -- or egg foo young -- recipes vary, although at its most basic, it's a puffy Chinese meat and vegetable omelet accompanied by a brown gravy-like sauce. Your choice of dish is constrained only by personal preference or by what you have on hand. Plan to make one egg foo young omelet per person. Once the sauce is prepared, the dish comes together in minutes, so have any side dishes -- rice or chow mein noodles, for instance -- ready beforehand.
Make the Sauce
The sauce served with egg foo yung is typically made from a combination of oyster sauce, broth -- beef, chicken or vegetable -- and soy sauce, seasoned with garlic and ginger and thickened with cornstarch. To obtain about 1/4 cup of sauce for each egg foo yung serving, start with 1 cup of stock, stirring in one part cornstarch, two parts oyster sauce and three parts soy sauce, altering the proportions as desired. If you don't have oyster sauce or don't like the taste, sweeten the broth with a small amount of sugar instead. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring it to a boil, whisking until it thickens.
Prepare the Filling
Use any meat, poultry or seafood in egg foo yung: roast or ground beef, pork or chicken; crabmeat; shrimp; clams; regular or Canadian bacon. Vegetarians can leave out the meat entirely or substitute tofu. Whichever type or combination of types, the meat should to be precooked, which makes egg foo yung a good way to use up leftovers. To boost flavor, season the meat with soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, herbs or spices. Use approximately 3/4 to 1 pound of meat for eight omelets. The vegetables used to mix with the meat is equally open-ended, although the most common are bean sprouts, minced water chestnuts and chopped scallions. For each pound of meat, add about 1 cup of vegetables.
Mix the Batter
Once the egg foo yung filling is ready to use, combine it with beaten eggs to make the omelet batter. According to "Saveur" food writer Mei Chin, the individual egg foo yung patties will be lighter and puffier if the eggs are at room temperature. If cholesterol is a concern, swap egg substitute for whole eggs. Plan to use about one egg per serving. Mix the eggs with the filling ingredients in one large bowl or, as Chin suggests, divide the filling between separate bowls -- one per omelet -- and mix an egg into each one and cook individually.
Cook and Serve
Have the egg foo yung sauce simmering and a skillet oiled and heated before cooking the individual omelets so they'll be ready to serve immediately. With your hands, mold a scoop of the batter into a patty shape, or, if the ingredients for each serving are in separate bowls, empty the contents of one bowl onto the skillet. Cook until both sides of the omelet are golden brown, about 2 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining batter or bowls of ingredients. Serve the egg foo yung drizzled with the sauce or pass it in a gravy boat to add at the table.
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Michelle Kerns writes for a variety of print and online publications and specializes in literature and science topics. She has served as a book columnist since 2008 and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. Kerns studied English literature and neurology at UC Davis.
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