What, Exactly, Are Chinese Steamed Eggs?

If there was a versatility contest for food, eggs would take the prize would take the prize. Of the many ways to cook them, Chinese steamed eggs stand out in terms of simplicity, taste, and an unbelievably silky texture. This unpretentious yet complex dish is an indispensable part of Chinese cuisine and culture.

Chinese steamed eggs are exactly what you think they are — steamed eggs. You might have had some of the softest scrambled eggs ever, but the velvety, custard-like texture of Chinese steamed eggs is like nothing else. Chinese steamed eggs rely on the Chinese method of cooking eggs, using moist heat rather than a specific recipe, and that is what sets this dish apart. What you add to the steamed eggs is entirely up to you.

Since the dish is customizable, you will find multiple variations in different regions of China. Also known as egg custard, the dish is enjoyed with steamed rice, vegetables, and toppings like soy sauce, garlic, and meat. They can also be enjoyed as a standalone dish. Chinese eggs are typically eaten for breakfast, but they can be enjoyed anytime.

It's a perfect dish for babies

Because steamed eggs are so soft, delicious, and easy to eat, they are considered an ideal food for babies, children, and the elderly. Chinese parents will often feed steamed eggs to their babies when they start solids. Eggs are a nutritious food in themselves, and gently steaming them can help retain more nutrients than frying them.

The basic recipe for Chinese steamed eggs calls for eggs, water, and seasonings, like salt and chicken bouillon. All the ingredients are gently whisked together and cooked in a shallow dish in a steamer. The higher the water ratio, the softer the eggs will turn out. Using warm water instead of cold and straining the eggs also improves the texture since the amount of bubbles is reduced. The eggs are cooked until they are smooth and custardy. If the eggs shake like gelatin when patted, they are ready.

Since texture is the main event, measuring your ingredients is always a good idea. Using too much water will prevent the eggs from solidifying, and too many eggs will make the dish rubbery. A 2-to-1 ratio of water and eggs yields soft and flavorful steamed eggs.