Egg Foo Young

published Dec 17, 2021
Egg Foo Young Recipe

This Chinese American classic is the ultimate comfort food.

Serves4 to 10

Prep10 minutes

Cook20 minutes

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egg foo young on two plates with a side of white rice, brown sauce and a carton of eggs in the background.
Credit: Zoe Yang

Egg foo young is a Chinese American classic: An ingenious restaurant invention aimed at using up kitchen extras while giving diners a fast, simple, yet delicious plate of food. (What could be more comforting than fried eggs?) Yet these days, the dish approaches relic status — perhaps because Chinese American restaurants have evolved into largely takeout and delivery operations, and this is a dish that doesn’t travel well. (What could be worse than soggy fried eggs?). 

All the more reason to make egg foo young at home! This recipe preserves the heart of what makes egg foo young so great — an essential lack of fuss — and incorporates a couple of tricks borrowed from Thai omelettes to maximize puffiness and crispness. First, just a touch of rice flour help the eggs firm up. It can be found in the starch aisle of an Asian grocery store, or online, but think of the addition as extra credit! The eggs are then poured into hot oil from high up, and the resulting “splash” creates an egg patty that’s almost sculpturally huge and light. Using these techniques, just two eggs will feel like six, making this dish a perfect weeknight dinner or party appetizer.

What Goes in Egg Foo Young, Anyway?

I’ve selected foo young fillings that classically complement eggs in Chinese cooking and don’t require pre-cooking. Garlic chives add a pungent umami flavor; mung bean sprouts add body and juice; shrimp lend a gentle bite. However, feel free to substitute whatever is in your fridge — I’m sure it’s already been found in an egg foo young sometime, somewhere. Just keep in mind the following guidelines:

  • Meat should be in bite-sized pieces, or ground, to ensure thorough cooking (ground pork or beef are great choices).
  • Watery vegetables such as mushrooms and bell peppers are best chopped into bite-sized pieces and pre-cooked to release some water.
  • Hard root vegetables such as carrots and potatoes should be julienned or shredded as well as given a quick sauté to soften them before they are added to the egg mixture.
  • Mung bean sprouts can be substituted with soy bean sprouts, but soy bean sprouts will need to be sautéed first to soften the bean.
  • Eggs pair well with alliums so try to include at least one, but feel free to substitute garlic chives with shallots, onions, or regular chives, keeping in mind that bulbs and white parts should also be sautéed first to sweeten and soften.
  • Don’t forget your wilting leafy herbs! Basil, dill, and parsley are all excellent additions.
  • Nicer seafood is historically above the pay grade of the humble Chinese American joints that serve egg foo young, but seafood and eggs are a match made in heaven. Lobster foo young, anyone?
Credit: Zoe Yang

A Note on Foo Young Sauce

Foo young sauce is traditionally little more than soy sauce and water thickened with cornstarch, and for that, it can be divisive! I’ve included the sauce and tried to keep it no-fuss while adding a little more depth of flavor using sesame oil and bouillon (I think it’s a major improvement), but feel free to fancy it up with homemade stock. If foo young sauce isn’t your thing, add a touch more salt to the eggs themselves and skip the sauce, or serve with your favorite chili sauce.

What to Eat with Egg Foo Young

Don’t overcomplicate it. Egg foo young begs for white rice, although this extra-crisp version is also great on its own, like a Vietnamese bánh xèo

Egg Foo Young Recipe

This Chinese American classic is the ultimate comfort food.

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

Serves 4 to 10

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

For the foo young sauce:

  • 1 cup

    plus 1 tablespoon water, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    chicken or beef bouillon paste (such as Better than Bouillon), or 1 bouillon cube

  • 1 tablespoon

    cornstarch

  • 1 teaspoon

    Shaoxing wine or dry sherry

  • 1 tablespoon

    soy sauce

  • 2 teaspoons

    oyster sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    toasted sesame oil

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    granulated sugar

  • 1/8 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

For the egg foo young:

  • 6 tablespoons

    water (optional), divided

  • 4 teaspoons

    rice flour (optional), divided

  • 4

    large eggs, divided

  • 2 tablespoons

    Shaoxing wine or dry sherry, divided

  • 1 teaspoon

    kosher salt, divided

  • A few dashes of white pepper

  • 4 ounces

    peeled and deveined uncooked shrimp (optional)

  • 4

    garlic chive stalks

  • 1 small slice

    peeled ginger

  • 1/2 cup

    mung bean sprouts, divided

  • Sliced scallions, for garnish (optional)

  • 2 to 5 cups

    neutral oil with a high smoke point, such as vegetable or grapeseed oil, for deep-frying

Instructions

Make the foo young sauce:

  1. Place 1 cup water and 1 teaspoon bouillon paste or 1 bouillon cube in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Meanwhile, whisk 1 tablespoon cornstarch into 1 tablespoon water together in a small bowl.

  2. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 2 teaspoons oyster sauce, 1 teaspoon Shaoxing wine, 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil, 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper to the saucepan and stir to combine. Taste and add more seasoning as needed: On its own, the sauce should be just a little bit too salty since it needs to flavor the mildly seasoned eggs.

  3. While whisking, pour the cornstarch mixture into the sauce and whisk until fully incorporated and thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 30 seconds. You’ll know it’s ready when huge bubbles form across the surface; if it’s still too runny at this point, whisk in an additional teaspoon of cornstarch dissolved in a teaspoon of water. Pour the sauce into a serving bowl and set aside.

Make the egg foo young:

  1. If using rice flour, place 3 tablespoons water with 2 teaspoons of the rice flour in a medium bowl and whisk until the flour is dissolved. Add 2 of the large eggs and whisk briefly to blend. The mixture does not need to be super smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of the Shaoxing wine, 1/2 teaspoon of the kosher salt, and a few dashes of white pepper. Briefly whisk again to combine. The mixture will be uniformly yellow but does not need to be super smooth.

  2. If using, chop 4 ounces peeled and deveined shrimp into bite-sized pieces. Trim 4 garlic chive stalks and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces (about 6 tablespoons). Mince 1 small slice peeled ginger until you have about 1/2 teaspoon. Add half of the shrimp, chives, ginger, and 1/4 cup of the mung bean sprouts to the egg mixture and stir to combine.

  3. Heat enough neutral oil in a 14-inch flat bottom wok or 10-inch frying pan so that it’s about an inch deep and no more than a quarter of the way up the wok sides (about 2 cups in a wok or 5 cups for a 10-inch pan) over high heat. The depth and surface area of the oil determine how wide and how fluffy your egg patty can get. The oil is ready for frying when a bamboo skewer or wooden chopstick bubbles immediately when inserted. (Hold on to cheap takeout chopsticks for this purpose!)

  4. Pour the egg mixture all at once into the center of the wok from a height of about six inches. The egg should dramatically spread out and bubble up into a big patty. If there are stray bits floating in the oil, use a skimmer to gently coax them back into the patty.

  5. Fry the egg patty until the edges are brown and firm, about 5 minutes. As it cooks, use a spatula to gently splash oil over the top — this helps the top form a crust and makes it easier to flip. Meanwhile, mix up the second batch of egg mixture in the now-empty bowl with the remaining ingredients.

  6. Gently flip the patty with the skimmer and a spatula (if the patty is too floppy, let it fry and firm up some more before trying again). The flipped patty should be bronzed and smooth on the surface — this is the side you’ll serve facing up. Fry for 3 minutes more. Very carefully pour the oil in the pan into a heatproof bowl. Let the patty pan-fry for another minute to “weep” more oil. Pour off the excess oil into the same bowl, then slide the egg patty onto a serving platter.

  7. Return the reserved oil to the pan, adding more if needed. Repeat frying the second patty. Top with the foo young sauce and chopped scallions and serve immediately.

Recipe Notes

General tips: Try to serve the egg foo young immediately, but if you’re not quite ready to plate, slide the cooked egg patty onto a wire rack so that it stays crisp.

Substitutions: Shallots, onions, or regular chives can be substituted for garlic chives, but bulbs and white parts should also be sautéed first to sweeten and soften.

Make ahead: The foo young sauce can be made up to 2 weeks ahead and refrigerated in an airtight container. Reheat on the stove or in a microwave before serving.

Storage: Egg foo young is best eaten fresh, but unsauced leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Reheat in a skillet or toaster oven.