Chinese egg lettuce cups
As with the names of many Chinese dishes, the literal translation is less about what is in the dish and more about how it is supposed to look. By cooking the eggs until they start to dry out, they will begin to resemble these tiny little flowers that the Chinese love to drink as tea. This makes a wonderfully light and savoury breakfast or brunch dish, getting a nice bit of crunchy veg in too!
6 sugar snap peas
10 leaves of little gem lettuce
2 sprigs of fresh coriander
2½ tbsp vegetable oil
A pinch of sea salt
A pinch of white pepper
3 tbsp hoisin sauce, for drizzling
For the blanching liquid:
200ml chicken or vegetable stock
1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
For the egg mix:
3 whole duck eggs
2 additional duck egg yolks
¼ tsp salt
½ tsp sesame oil
Pick the ends off the beansprouts and wash the sprouts well by soaking in cold water, running your fingers through them a few times, rinsing, then soaking once more in cold water. Finely slice the sugar snap peas into long matchsticks.
In a large wok, bring the blanching liquid ingredients to the boil. Add the beansprouts and blanch for 30 secs. Immediately scoop them out into a sieve in the sink, then place them in a bowl of cold water to stop them overcooking. Reserve the blanching liquid for later use in the recipe (the excess can be frozen and used as a base for a noodle soup or for general cooking another day).
Beat the egg mix ingredients together in a bowl. Separate the lettuce leaves. Lastly, pick the coriander leaves and place them in a bowl of cold water ready for the garnish.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a wok to a high heat. Once smoking hot, pour the beaten egg mix into the wok and immediately start to stir, scraping it from the bottom of the wok to avoid any burning or browning of the egg. The skill in cooking this dish comes from lots of stirring with the base of a wok ladle or a flat spatula, as well as using the correct heat on the wok at all times.
After 1-2 mins, when the egg is about halfway cooked (solidifying, but still relatively wobbly), turn the heat down to medium and continue to stir with the flat part of your spatula to ‘scramble’ the egg as much as possible. Keep stirring and scraping around the base of the wok until the egg really starts to lose its moisture; it will eventually start to look quite dry and will start to separate into small, bitty pieces, but it should remain yellow rather than browned (this usually takes 3–4 mins).
At this point, remove the egg from the wok and tip it into a bowl, then return the wok to the hob on a high heat. Heat ½ tbsp vegetable oil to a high heat. Add the sugar snap matchsticks, blanched beansprouts and just 1 tbsp leftover blanching liquid and stir-fry for 30 secs, then return the scrambled egg back to the wok for one last fold through.
Season with a pinch of sea salt and some white pepper, stir-fry for a further 30 secs or so, then lightly mix in the coriander leaves. To serve, use the lettuce leaves as cups to hold the scrambled egg and a little drizzle of hoisin.
Recipe: Jeremy Pang
Image: Kris Kirkham
From Hong Kong Diner by Jeremy Pang