Your Dream Lunch? This Sweet and Sour Omelette
Saving weekday lunches, one egg at a time
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If there was a Spotify Wrapped for my cooking, stir-fried tomato and eggs would be at the top of the list every year. I’ve made it literally a zillion times and even developed a noodle soup recipe based on it. However, there are plenty of lazy times when I don’t even have fresh tomatoes on hand or am shuffling the pantry around thinking about cooking up something new. This sent me on a journey to find my tomato and egg stand-in; a recipe that’s just as simple and straightforward, that can be the second in command to my forever number one.
This omelette recipe was initially inspired by the Chinese Cantonese classic, egg foo young (芙蓉蛋); a deep-fried omelette made with char siu (barbecued pork), bean sprouts, and bamboo shoots, sometimes tossed in a thick sweet and sour sauce. In my experimenting as I developed this recipe, I stripped things back to make everything more weekday friendly, relying on just a few basic veggies you might have at home already, and a super easy sweet and sour sauce, adapted from the Chinese food writer Yuhui Chen. Her version leaves out the starch, but I certainly do enjoy a glossy and thick sauce, wherein starch is essential. This dish takes from all the good things I love about egg recipes from many Asian countries: it’s crispy on the edges, soft and tender inside, and is extremely flavorful. Most importantly, it’s done in just about 20 minutes!
Chinese sweet and sour omelette
How to make the perfect sweet and sour omelette
You might want your French omelette smooth, soft, and custardy, but with this omelette recipe, it’s all about the crispness. Without deep-frying, here are 3 tips to help create the puffy, crisp texture that’s key for this recipe:
— Add starch: Add a pinch of starch to the beaten eggs and whisk vigorously, until the starch dissolves and some bubbles form in the mixture. This helps keep the eggs tender and moist even while cooking at such a high temperature.
— Use hot oil: Before frying up your omelettes, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it’s just barely smoking. This way, when you add the egg mixture, the edges should puff up immediately upon hitting the oil. You will use a bit more oil here than for normal fried eggs, but don’t skip it! You can always prepare a plate with some paper towel to soak up the excess after cooking.
— Use a small frying pan: It’s not easy to flip a giant omelette, I know from personal experience, as one of my test results ended up looking more like Pacman than an omelette. That’s why a smaller frying pan works better here and will result in nice, round omelettes. Making two instead of one large ones is also easier to work with, and with the help of a thin rubber spatula or an offset spatula, the flipping is a breeze. Getting a quick and tasty lunch on the table is the priority, and appearance is certainly not everything, but this tip will help you keep things looking good, too.
Onions and scallions are ingredients I always have on hand and they yield a great caramelized flavor to the oil and final dish, similar to the flavor of these scallion oil noodles. I don’t doubt that garlic chives, bean sprouts, or fresh peas could taste amazing in the omeltte as well and you could add a protein of your choice, too, like chicken or shrimp. Cook these separately and add to the egg mixture with the cooled vegetables, or fry them up directly with the veg!
More egg recipes to make on a whim
Omelette with spinach and feta
5-ingredient spinach frittata with prosciutto and mozzarella
Classic spaghetti carbonara
Çilbir (Turkish poached eggs with yogurt)
Tomato and egg noodle soup
Published on March 31, 2022