Saturday, April 30, 2011

Chinese Steamed Egg (Zheng Dan)

Steamed egg is a simple yet luscious savory dish that comes out almost like a custard. Great for a cold winter's day. My mom didn't make this too often when I was a kid, so it was a real treat whenever she did, and the addition of bacon made it even mo betta. Doesn't sound like a traditional Chinese combo, but then who doesn't like bacon and eggs? The ingredients are very simple, but the tricky part is in the steaming: if you let it cook over high heat for too long, the egg will end up looking grayish (with bubbles) instead of yellow, and will have a rubbery texture. My method is to bring the water in the steamer up to a boil, cook the egg mixture for about 5 minutes, then bring it down to medium low or low and continue cooking for another 30 minutes or until the custard is set but still creamy. 


Ingredients:
1 dozen extra large eggs, in a large bowl (but not too large that it won't fit into your steamer)
6 cups light chicken stock (6 cups water + 3 tbsp. Totole brand granulated chicken base*)
2 extra cups chicken stock, to add to custard as soon as it is set, if you like extra "soup"
*Totole brand chicken base proportions: 1 tbsp. base to 2 cups water
3 slices bacon, chopped
Chinese white pepper
2-3 scallions, chopped


1. Beat eggs well in large bowl. Stir in chopped bacon.


2. Very gently stir in 6 cups of chicken stock to the egg & bacon mix.


3. Place egg mixture in a large steamer over ample water. Cover. Turn heat on high and let water in steamer come to a boil. Continue steaming over high heat for about 5-7 minutes, until edges of egg start to set. Turn heat down to medium-low to low, and continue cooking for about 30 minutes until custard is just set, checking egg periodically (if custard seems to be cooking unevenly, i.e., uncooked in the center, and cooked along the edges, then carefully fold in cooked edges towards the center with a large spoon).


4. Once custard is set, turn off heat and carefully add an additional 1-2 cups of chicken stock over the top of the egg mixture. Cover the steamer, and let sit for about 5-10 minutes. 


5. Serve steamed egg in soup bowls sprinkled with a little white pepper and chopped scallion.


My stand-by chicken stock of choice for Chinese cooking: Totole brand chicken base (at a ratio of 1 tbsp. for every 2 cups of water).

1 dozen extra large eggs.

Beat eggs until well-blended.

Chop 3 slices of bacon.

Stir chopped bacon into eggs.

Add 6 cups of chicken stock.

Very gently blend chicken stock into the egg mixture.

Place egg in steamer and turn heat on high. Once water in steamer is boiling, continue steaming over high heat for about 5-7 minutes or until edges of egg start to set. Turn heat down to medium-low or low, and continue steaming another 30 minutes.

While custard is steaming, check periodically. If it seems to be cooking unevenly (center is raw, while edges are setting very quickly), very gently scrape edges, and fold the cooked egg into the uncooked egg in the center. 

Once the egg is completely set but still creamy (it should have the texture of soft tofu), turn off heat and gently pour in an additional 1-2 cups of chicken stock over the top of the custard. Cover the steamer, and let sit 5-10 minutes before serving.

Garnish: chopped scallion & white pepper.

Ladle steamed egg into a soup bowl and sprinkle top with chopped scallion & white pepper.

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