Egg Foo Young


Egg Foo Young
Maura McEvoy

Chinese American writer Mei Chin first tried this fried egg delicacy when she was 21 years old. “I had been expecting something like egg drop soup over fried rice, so I was amazed to be presented with such an elegant dish,” she says. “It was a lacy golden omelet with an elaborate filling mixed in—bean sprouts and minced water chestnuts; bits of roast pork and fresh shrimp; chopped scallions. Pillowy and punctuated with crunchy vegetables, it was bronzed at its edges from frying. At its side was a silver sauceboat of brown gravy, which was thick and savory, a little bit sweet and a little bit salty.” She immediately understood why the dish developed by Cantonese immigrants in the United States during the mid-1800s became an icon of Chinese-American cuisine.

At the famed Shun Lee Palace in New York City, a version of this egg foo young has been on the menu since the restaurant first opened in 1971. The chefs have a great trick for forming the omelets: They use a wok ladle to place the egg mixture into the oil so that it sets in the shape of the ladle’s bowl.

Featured in: “Orient Express,” by Mei Chin.

Yield: 8
Time: 55 minutes


For the gravy:

  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. dry sherry
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • One ½-in. piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

For the omelets:

  • 1⁄2 lb. ground pork
  • 3 Tbsp. soy sauce, divided
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch, divided
  • 1½ tsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. dry sherry
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. sesame oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil, plus more for frying
  • 6 oz. medium shrimp, peeled, deveined, and finely chopped
  • 1⁄2 cup canned water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped
  • 1⁄3 cup bean sprouts
  • 2 medium scallions, thinly sliced (about 1⁄3 cup), plus more for serving
  • 6 large eggs, lightly beaten


  1. Make the gravy: In a small pot over high heat, combine all the gravy ingredients and bring to a boil. Cook, whisking frequently, until thickened, 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat, strain, and cover to keep warm.
  2. Make the omelets: In a medium bowl, stir together the pork, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, the vinegar, sherry, and 1 teaspoon sesame oil. Season lightly with salt and black pepper, then set aside to marinate for 10 minutes.
  3. In a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil until it shimmers. Add the pork mixture and cook, breaking up the meat frequently, until it is no longer pink, 3–4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool slightly. Add the remaining soy sauce, cornstarch, and sesame oil, as well as the shrimp, water chestnuts, bean sprouts, scallions, and eggs, to the pork. Season lightly with salt and black pepper, and stir to combine.
  4. To a large, heavy pot fitted with a deep-fry thermometer, add enough vegetable oil to reach a depth of ¾ inch. Cook over high heat until the oil reaches 350°F. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°F. Using a ladle or measuring cup and working in batches, carefully pour ½-cup scoops of the egg mixture into the oil. Cook, flipping once, until the omelets are puffed and brown, 1½–2 minutes. Transfer the omelets to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm while you continue cooking the rest of the egg mixture. Drizzle with the reserved gravy, garnish with scallions, and serve hot.

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