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What is Egg Foo Yung?

Eggs, which are used to make egg foo young.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2014
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Egg foo yung, also spelled egg fu young or egg fuyung, is a Chinese-American dish based on a Shanghai classic dish called fu yung egg slices. In some ways, it's like one of the earliest omelets, invented long before the French coined that term. Fu Yung translates as lotus flower, and the original dish generally combined egg whites with minced ham or chicken, and it was either pan or deep-fried.

Chinese chefs in the US are primarily responsible for egg foo yung as it is now known, and the dish was first likely prepared in the 1940s or early 1950s. The name of the first inventor is now lost, but the dish could have been developed in any restaurant specializing in Cantonese cuisine. Quite simply, the modern dish uses the whole egg in most cases, producing an omelet, or egg pancake, to which a small amount of meat and vegetables are added.

Suggestion among culinary historians is that initially, this dish was deep-fried. This is an uncommon practice today, and pan frying it much as a cook would an omelet, is more common. The basic shape doesn’t have to be perfect either; egg foo yung can be somewhat rumpled, folded into squares, or almost resemble scrambled eggs. Brown sauce or sauces with soy sauce are added giving the dish a notable “Chinese” flavor. Further, it almost always includes chopped green onions, either incorporated into the eggs or as a garnish on the top.

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Common additions include strips of pork, beef, chicken, shrimp, or for the adventurous palate, mealworms. Unlike the American omelet, however, the eggs should not be stuffed full of ingredients. The additions are generally just there to provide some flavor without bulking up the dish and making it more about what's added than the eggs. The simplest sauce may merely be a soy or tempura sauce topped with a bit of scallions. More commonly, Chinese brown gravies, like those that accompany dishes such as broccoli beef, are used.

Some versions of the dish would be almost impossible to recognize. The St. Paul sandwich, for instance, is a deep-fried egg foo yung sandwich, served on white bread with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mayonnaise. This variant of the classic dish can be found in St. Louis, Missouri, where the invention of the sandwich is credited to creative Chinese-American chefs. In the rest of the US, diners are more likely to find egg fu yung in Chinese restaurants, but the recipe is so simple, it’s certainly worth trying at home too, especially since it is quick to prepare.

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StormyWind
Post 4

@skinnylove- It's also important to make sure not to salt your eggs while beating them or while they are in the pan. Salting the eggs during beating and/or cooking dehydrates them, thereby causing them to lose their great fluffy texture. Always salt after your Egg Foo Yung is safely on your plate.

skinnylove
Post 3

Always mix the lightly beaten egg with the other ingredients you are using before pouring it all in a pan. Also, be sure the pan is hot enough to adequately cook the egg mixture.

raresteak
Post 2

There are no definite rules for Egg Foo Yung fillings. You can use Chinese sausage, barbeque pork, shrimp, or tofu. Crunchy mung bean sprouts are often a popular vegetable choice for this dish, as are green onion and mushrooms.

Always blanch or stir-fry your veggies before adding them to the Egg Foo Yung. This helps to release the flavor of the vegetables and also creates a better texture in the dish.

anon46524
Post 1

John Montagu, fourth Earl of Sandwich, died in 1792 and is probably best remembered now for the bread and beef convenience food which took his name. It is more likely that he ate this as part of his working day at the admiralty than, as some have suggested, because he spent so long gambling. The original sandwich was in fact a piece of salt beef between two slices of toasted bread.

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