Thursday, October 8, 2015

Vegetable Egg Foo Yung

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.

5 eggs
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.

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