We are heading to China for steamed eggs, also called 蒸水蛋 (zhēng shuǐ dàn or zhēng dàngēng) in Chinese.
In the south of China, it is called “water egg” and in the north, it is called “egg soup”. In the Shandong Province, located east of China, and in the northeast, it is called “the steamed cake for children”. In the menus of many restaurants, this dish is even called creme anglaise.
How to make steamed eggs
Well, making Chinese steamed eggs is actually not so simple! There are some basic rules to follow for the success of this recipe and especially to get the perfect creaminess. For the basic recipe or even the ones with more elaborate garnishing, the secret is to mix almost as much water as eggs in volume.
The water should be very hot but not boiling and the water and egg mixture should be strained. Failure to follow these steps would immediately cause a separation of the water and eggs which would result in the water rising to the surface at the end of cooking.
Chinese say that the water in this recipe should be clean and pure, which is why the majority of them use distilled water. I personally used spring water.
But how can we talk about this recipe or any other steam recipe without talking about the ubiquitous Asian cuisine tool: the bamboo steamer.
In order to steam jiaozi, mantou, or just some fresh vegetables, you will need this equipment. Steam cooking is a popular technique in Asian cuisine, especially when it comes to cooking rice. It is also popular in North Africa for example as we steam couscous.
Steam cooking has been around for several hundred years. In fact, at the time, people already used utensils where the food was placed expressly out of their cooking liquid.
How to use a bamboo steamer
The bamboo steamer, whose base is pierced, must be placed on a pan of boiling water, so that the steam propagates to cook its content.
Here are some simple steps to follow:
– Fill the basket, after lining the bottom of each basket with pierced parchment paper, or salad or cabbage leaves to prevent the food from sticking to the bottom of the basket, then cover.
– Make sure that the bottom of the basket is above the water line and especially that it is not immersed.
– Traditionally, a wok rather than a saucepan will be used, but a saucepan will do the job just as well. About 2 inches of water will be needed.
– Once the steam basket is in place, it is very important to keep an eye on the water level.
– It is possible to bring more flavor to steamed foods by using broth or other flavored liquid in place of water.
– It is also possible to line each basket with more delicate flavors like banana, pandan, shiso, or corn leaves.
These steamed eggs, that are very popular in China are the stars of all diets. They are also often prepared for babies, mainly for their creamy texture reminiscent of custard, that every toothless little human being will love but it is also favored for the sick or the people lacking energy.
I prepared this recipe for a gourmet breakfast with friends and we all loved it!
- 1¼ cup hot water
- 3 large eggs (ideally about same volume as water)
- ¼ teaspoon ground white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon chicken bouillon granules (optional)
- 1 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon fried garlic
- 1 stem of green onion , thinly sliced
- Beat the eggs in a large bowl and slowly add the hot water.
- Add salt, chicken bouillon granules (optional), and white pepper and mix well.
- Strain the mixture to get rid of bubbles and imperfections before steaming.
- Pour the mixture back into the bowl, cover with a plastic wrap and place it gently in a bamboo steamer.
- Cover and steam on low heat for 10 minutes.
- Pour the sesame oil and soy sauce over the surface and place the fried garlic and green onion on top. Serve hot.