The dish I'm posting about is one of the most versatile recipes and is enjoyed by many cultures. The name for the Chinese version-- the only version known widely in America-- is derived from Cantonese and named for a mainland Chinese dish popularized in Shanghai. In America it typically includes the usual canned ingredients, such as sliced bamboo shoots, water chestnuts, and what are here called straw mushrooms; in the traditional Chinese version it is more often made with fresh vegetables. In either case the vegetables and--if desired--meat are embedded in a fluffy egg omelette which is fried in oil. I'm exceptionally curious, so I'll put the question to my international friends: is the local version served topped with brown gravy in your country, as it is here?
Why am I cooking this up for the Joyous Kitchen? Several reasons, actually. For one, it is near and dear to my heart, having been the first dish I ever learned how to make on my own after leaving home to go to college. Another reason is to hopefully win some converts; despite its appearance on just about every Chinese food menu, I think the majority of Americans have yet to try it which is a shame. Not only is it practically endlessly customizable but the rich brown gravy is delicious and soul-satisfying. The main reason for including it here is that it fits in perfectly with the event I'm hosting at Foodies+ on Google+: a baby food and kid friendly recipe event during the month of October. Not only can this simple recipe be tailored to appeal to the pickiest of palates, it is also a fun and easy thing for the kids to help prepare, with lots of mixing to be done.
I am keeping my version of the dish simple and vegetarian to appeal to the picky eaters and the children going through vegetarian face. Some variations I suggest are: chopped roast pork with the strained, diluted roasting juices forming the base of the brown gravy, or sauteed shrimps with the vegetable stock version of the gravy I have laid out here.
Egg Foo Yung
Serves 2 adults and one child of small appetite.
1/3 cup bean sprouts
1/2 medium yellow onion, julienned
2 small carrots, washed and diced
2 ounces green cabbage, shredded
1 small can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1/4 cup shelled raw peas
soy sauce, to taste
Pepper to taste
Oil, for cooking ( up to 3 tablespoons)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 inch piece of ginger peeled and grated
1 cup low-sodium vegetable stock*
3 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons soy sauce
Pepper, to taste
1. Parboil peas and carrots for 2 or so minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
2. Beat eggs in a bowl until fluffy and filled with air. Have the kiddo help with this step.
3. In 1 ½ Tablespoons oil, saute onions for 3 minutes or until starting to be translucent. Add cabbage, peas and carrots and saute for another 2 to 3 minutes. As each vegetable is added, also add a small dash of soy sauce.
4. Add bean sprouts and water chestnuts and a dash of soy sauce and then heap veggies into a pile in the center of the pan.
5. Turn the heat up slightly and pour eggs over the vegetable mixture, starting in the center and working your way out.** Try to saturate vegetables with egg mixture so it does not spread beyond veggies and thin out. You can have a child help with this step, as well. Add remaining oil in the space around your pile of vegetables
6. Cook egg mixture without flipping until it is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Flip (you may need to very carefully turn it out onto a plate to flip it successfully--there will be an excess of hot oil surrounding the omelette) and cook for another 5 minutes, or until both sides are golden brown.
7. Set egg and vegetable Patty aside. Cover to keep warm. In a small saucepan over medium heat add 1/2 Tablespoon cooking oil, 2 teaspoons soy sauce, garlic, ginger and pepper to taste and the sesame oil. Cook for 2 or so minutes, stirring frequently, until you begin to smell the flavors. Add all but 3 teaspoons of the vegetable stock and bring to a simmer.
8. In a small dish whisk together remaining cold vegetable stock and cornstarch to form a slurry. Your little helper can also assist with this.
9. Add slurry to saucepan, whisking constantly, and reduce heat to low. Allow gravy to thicken slightly, about 3 to 5 minutes. Serve egg and vegetable patty, topped with gravy, or with the gravy along the side.
* or stock of choice
**for aesthetic reasons many chefs prefer to divide the veggies and egg batter into two equal portions to form two separate egg/veggie patties. This step is optional, but it does have its advantages in that two omelettes are less unwieldy than one.