Growing up, we used to eat Chinese steamed egg all the time. We love the custardy, silky smooth texture. Top it with delicious stir-fried garlic and picked cabbage, and you've got yourself an amazing healthy meal. It's a traditional comfort food that can be eaten at any time of the day.
The Inspiration Behind the Dish
Steamed egg is a staple in every Chinese household. It's simple to make and cost efficient, and a dish that everyone in the family enjoys. With it's custard-like texture, it's also a children favorite and the perfect comfort food on a cold day. We grew up eating it a lot, although our family made it more the Korean way. We mastered the Chinese steamed egg and we make it every now and then, and top it garlic and pickled cabbage.
What is Chinese Steamed Egg (蒸蛋羹)
Also known as water egg or egg custard, steamed egg is a popular Chinese dish made primarily from egg and water. It has a smooth and velvety texture, and a very subtle taste. The punch in flavor comes from the toppings! It can be eaten for any meal of the day, and usually eaten with a fresh bowl of steamed rice. It's such a versatile and adaptable dish, it's hard to fight the urge to make it every week!
If you want to try another steamed egg recipe, check out our Chawanmushi recipe, which is the Japanese version of the steamed egg, and check out Manchi's Gyeran Jjim for the Korean-style version.
How to perfect Chinese Steamed Egg
Although this is quite a simple and quick recipe, there's some important tips and tricks to follow to ensure you have the smoothest and silkiest steamed egg.
Egg to water ratio
The perfect ratio is 1:2, meaning you want 2 times the quantity of water compared to eggs. We personally like using chicken broth to add more flavor, but feel free to use any broth or just plain water.
Incorporating egg and water
When mixing your egg with water, or broth of choice, we recommend using warm water. This will help reduce the amount of bubbles and make your steamed egg silky smooth.
You must strain your egg mixture to avoid bubbles and to perfect the custardy texture of the dish.
In this recipe, we used a 7-inch shallow porcelain bowl to steam the mixture in, with a steaming time of about 10 minutes on medium heat. The steaming time will vary with the size, type, and material of the bowl you use to steam the mixture in. Do not steam at high heat, as it will ruin the texture.
There is many different ways to steam your egg mixture:
- Bamboo steamer. These are some of the best steamers out there. The bamboo absorbs the steam and will prevent any bubbles dripping to your steamed egg.
- Metal steamer. This is the type we used to make this dish. However, since metal steamer tend to drip water due to condensation, we made sure to cover our egg mixture with a saran wrap.
- Any pot you have on hand. You can use a small bowl to elevate your dish, or use a collapsible steamer like this one.
For the last 2 options cases, we recommend always using a saran wrap to make sure the top of your dish are not affected by bubbles. We recommend saran wrap over aluminum foil, as you will have to lift the foil to see if it's ready.
We love adding stir-fried garlic and pickled cabbage to our Chinese steamed egg. It reminds us of the days we used to live in Shanghai and would get Douhua, a tofu-base Chinese breakfast, every morning. These were the days!
However, you can get very creative and add all sorts of toppings, such as century egg, salted egg, shrimp, pork, and the list goes on.
Gently shake the bowl once you take it out of the steamer and the steamed egg should jiggle slightly without any visible uncooked liquid. It will also harden slightly as you let it cool to room temperature, so you shouldn't overcook it.
It might be because your egg to ratio was off, your didn't use warm water/broth to incorporate the eggs, you didn't strain your mixture or your heat was too high.
Yes! Swap the chicken broth for water or vegetable broth.
Chinese Steamed Egg
- 3 large eggs
- 300 ml chicken broth low sodium or unsalted
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp Chinese pickled cabbage
- In a bowl, beat the eggs for about 1 minute or until smooth and there is no more large strands of egg whites. Transfer into a measuring cup, and you should have about 150 ml of beaten egg. Transfer to a large 7 inch bowl.
- Add about 300 ml of chicken broth to the beaten egg and whisk well until well combined. The amount of chicken broth should be double the amount of beaten egg (ratio of 1:2). Pass mixture through a strainer and transfer to a shallow, heat resistant bowl. Scoop out the bubbles that form on the surface of the mixture using a spoon.
- Cover the bowl with saran wrap and steam on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let chill to room temperature. It should be ready when the steamed egg jiggles slightly when you shake the bowl and there is no liquid on the surface. Note that the steamed egg will harden as you cool it to room temperature, therefore it is important not to overcook it.
- Heat canola oil on a pan over medium high heat and stir fry the garlic until slightly golden. Add in the pickled cabbage and stir fry for about 1 minute. Add in the low-sodium soy sauce and sesame oil and combine well. Pour the mixture over the steamed egg and serve.