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More on Shrimp and Scrambled Eggs

The shrimp & egg scramble is Taiwanese. Cantonese places make it 'cuz it sells.

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  1. Well said ... and said diplomatically no less!

    27 Replies
    1. re: ipsedixit

      I double checked (Taiwanese and Mainland sources) and am told Wa Tan Har Yen is indded Cantonese.

      1. re: Ciao Bob

        [sigh] I guess that settles that. [rolls eyes]

        1. re: Ciao Bob

          I am confused by the discussion. Exactly what is the Chinese name of this dish? I am Taiwanese and I can not recall anything like this as a Taiwanese "specialty". Furthermore, just "shrimp with scrambled eggs" sounds like something anybody would do at home and really too generic for anybody to claim "ownership".

          1. re: tt1688

            虾仁滑蛋 (xiā rén huá dàn) or 滑蛋虾仁 (huá dàn xiā rén). It isn't exactly the most poetic name (it means "slippery eggs with shrimp").

            1. re: Das Ubergeek

              Exactly.

              The whole notion that Eggs with Shrimp is somehow an exclusively Cantonese, or Taiwanese, or whatever dish is as laughable as saying Tiger Woods is synonymous with marital fidelity.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                You mean he's not?

                I've never had this dish, either here, Guangdong or Taiwan. ipse & DU, who cooks your favorite representation of this dish?

                Mr Taster

                1. re: Mr Taster

                  I can't stand it. Sulfurous, slimy eggs and bland, boring shrimp? Just disgusting.

                  That said, a coworkers used to flee to this dish when I worked in the SGV and we explored the environs and he used to get it at any number of places. It always looked and tasted the same. In the Valley, you can get it by special order at China Lites at the Laurel Canyon Orange Line stop, I've seen Chinese businessmen order it (ew, ew, EW!).

                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                    It's pretty hard to make this dish wrong at any restaurant. The only problem is ordering it and the server won't understand what you've asked for when you describe the dish and they fully cook the eggs like an egg foo young rather than runny gravy. That's when it helps to be able to speak Chinese.

                    1. re: Galen

                      Nine times out of ten we ended up with something in the middle -- not cooked to a char like egg foo young, but not runny gravy either, more like slimy scrambled egg curds.

                      Ew, ew, ew, ew, ew. Every time I see that dish I think what a waste it would be if the best thing five thousand years' obsessive study of food, ingredients and technique could produce is a plate of eggs and shrimp.

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                        Shrimp with scrambled eggs should be runny.

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          No definitely not runny. It's more like creamy than runny. Definitely not hard either.

                    2. re: Das Ubergeek

                      I've never understood my wife's predilection for those overcooked eggs covered with the slimy oyster/mussel omelet juice. Why not just softly cook the eggs and leave off the slime? :)

                      Mr Taster

                      1. re: Mr Taster

                        Oyster omelet ... heaven on a plate!

                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          I know, I know... I prefer the Thai version (like the one at Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas) where the texture is less slime and more crisp.

                          Mr Taster

                          1. re: Mr Taster

                            The one at Bangkok Taste in Santa Ana, incidentally, is the best I've had in the LA area and might actually be better than LOS's (I know, blasphemy!)

                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                              Wow, great tip... anything else worth sussing out at Bangkok Taste?

                              Mr Taster

                              1. re: Mr Taster

                                Khao soi and pad kee mao (not on the menu, but they'll make it, smoky and delicious). Curries are pretty good too but I'm not usually in a large enough group to get more than oyster pancake, khao soi and pad kee mao.

                          2. re: ipsedixit

                            Second this heavenly reminder... Ah, 蚵仔煎...

                            1. re: J.L.

                              Third! I can hear the sizzling of the omelet cooking on the streets of Taiwan...

                              1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

                                While fresh is always best, is there a better use for canned oysters??? If there is I have yet to see or taste it.

                                1. re: ipsedixit

                                  This is EXACTLY what you do with canned oysters. I put 'em in cocktails, but this is worth a go.Enjoying the tales of runny eggs,too.

                                  1. re: streetgourmetla

                                    I'm hoping that my enjoyment of deep fried pigs blood rice cakes helps to mitigate any loss of chow cred from my dislike of slimy oyster eggs.

                                    Mr Taster

                    3. re: ipsedixit

                      I always find myself in full agreement with you, especially on Chinese food and issues, ipsie. But this time I cannot be. The dish is not exclusively "Cantonese" by any means, but it's origin is Guangdong. I know Taiwanese grandmothers do a great job with it...some have made it for me...but it was handed to them from the Cantonese.

                    4. re: Das Ubergeek

                      The "slippery egg" component is also used with other meats. Usually, it's paired with rice, but I've seen it paired with wide rice noodles, too. It actually doesn't sound too bad to a Cantonese speaker. Then again, I think the only dish that does sounds bad to a Cantonese speaker is "urinating shrimp".

                  2. re: Ciao Bob

                    I am not saying that Baidu holds the absolute authority over this (or any) topic, but here is a "thought" at least:
                    http://baike.baidu.com/view/61165.htm...
                    So it's categorized as "Cantonese" here. :-) I'd say "running eggs" (even more commonly with beef) is a typical Catonese technique. It also fits (in textures) with other things Cantonese like to eat - example: fried milk.
                    We can at least claim oyster cakes of definite Taiwanese origin. Although it has its mainland root but the Taiwanese versions are different enough to be considered a new dish. I personally think we got it right. I couldn't stand those Tewchow style oyster cakes in Singapore ... :-
                    )And pity to those of you who can not appreciate the running egg technique :-). It's a true test of a cook's stir fry skills!

                    1. re: tt1688

                      For what it is worth, the original version of oyster pancake or 蚵仔煎 brought over by Fujian immigrants that settled around the western coast of central Taiwan over 150 years ago, namely Chiayi province by the port of Lu Gan, started off with just flour, baby oysters, and basil (or was it scallions) was pan fried and contained no eggs. I believe it's called 蚵爹 (but the 2nd character actually has a mouth character in front of it), pronounced oh deh or something like that.

                      The Taipei variation that is more well known, warped to contain baby oysters, egg, vegetable (usually tong ho but can be another local green), and yam starch powder which actually creates the gooey texture that is being abhored by a few (not the cause of the egg itself).

                      1. re: K K

                        Just for one reference point, and for the hell of it, I tried an Oh Deh (or Er Deh if you want to pronounce the word for oyster in Fujianese the OG way) at Lir Hua night market earlier tonight by Yongho city Taipei County. Sadly a very run of the mill rendition, even though it was my first time. Not much in the way of oysters, but a lot of scallions and some pork. The whole thing was layered in flour and deep fried. It resembled the "chive box" (jiu tsai her zi) in concept, but that one is baked, not deep fried.

                        Nearby another street food vendor was selling a specific offering of 蚵仔炒蛋

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                    1. The slimy eggs and shrimp are more of a Cantonese thing. The Taiwanese I know love their scrambled eggs with sha gan - dried brine shrimp. Dried shrimp of this type are very strong tasting, they're an acquired taste. We put spoonfuls of this dish on top of our congee in the morning.

                      True runny-egg cuisine, whether made with shrimp or scallions, is indeed difficult and takes some practice.

                      1. Darn you LA Taiwanese food loving folks are a loud bunch ;-)

                        Can't we AzNs just learn to co-exist...sheesh. Nobody should lay claim to inventing this dish. Just like nobody should lay claim to stir fried tomatoes with eggs 番茄炒蛋. People in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong eat this (and shrimp with scrambled eggs) at restaurants and at home. Don't forget our ancentral roots all came from China at some point, whether you are Hakka, Toishan, Fujian, Fuzhou, or what not (unless you have aborigine in your bloodline then maybe you're related to Taiwanese royalty like some hottie singer, then you're original Taiwanese, although the Fujian/Minganyu speakers seemed to have staked that claim nowadays) My Taiwanese MIL does the tomato eggs with bits of pork belly bacon thrown in to make it complete. You can also throw in chives or scallions or garlic bulbs with vary degrees of done-ness on the eggs for fun (and also degree of mashed up-ness of the tomato).

                        But yes, I bet this dish has more countryside/rural/burb roots, whether it be from the Toishan village, or the Hakka Taiwanese around Miaoli and Hsinchu counties, or 1960s-1980s homes of Hong Kong before they started hiring SE Asian maids en masse and the average HK woman lost the will to learn how to cook in favor of being career folks (and that's why the grandma types kick ass in the kitchen, if they still remember how to cook).

                        Gotta love the other variations...including scrambled eggs with basil (more of a Taiwanese thing).

                        But yes the Cantonese version of the shrimp and scrambled eggs, 滑蛋蝦球 or 蝦仁, the consistency of the egg is indeed on the soft smooth side (runny means undercooked) and is sometimes used as an old school chef gig interview test dish.

                        The eggs in 蚵仔煎's even at Ningxia night market in Taipei (my favorite oyster pancake version to date)...the egg is a lot closer to a well done fried egg than it is scrambled. But darn good range chicken eggs they use.

                        12 Replies
                        1. re: K K

                          Well put. It's amazing how such a simple dish can engender so much discussion both as to origin (Taiwanese, Cantonese etc), preparation (runny or soft and fluffy eggs) and variations (with tomatoes, bacons etc).

                          1. re: K K

                            I'm about as Asian-looking as an Alsatian dog, but I've been called an egg before. :)

                            I will avoid this dish in all its guises, though. Yuk. No matter what kind of restaurant I'm in, Cantonese, Hakka, Taiwanese, whatever, there will undoubtedly be way more to tempt my palate than gross floppy eggs with overcooked naked shrimp in them. :)

                            1. re: Das Ubergeek

                              If it makes it a bit more palatable for you, go to a good Cantonese seafood restaurant (or a place where their stir fry skills don't stink) and perhaps try scrambled egg shrimp chow fun. Provided that the eggs are smooth, the chow fun is not clumpy and super oily, the shrimp are not from frozen and that the chef actually gave a flying you know what to remove the shrimp intestines (the black line of yucky stuff down the middle), then it's all good. If the restaurant makes a good ha gow for dim sum, it should be a good prep.

                              Or try it with chicken or beef instead.

                              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                Based on your description, if that's the best thing on the menu I'd be silly not to leave immediately.

                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                  Wow, strong dislike DU.
                                  I assume you have you tried it, but with really plump fresh shrimp? To me, this is one dish that the final product is so much more than the sum of its parts. And I need to point out that the shrimp is certainly NOT overcooked: when done right they are a little over the border from translucent to opaque.

                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                    Das

                                    Not trying to convert you by any means but just trying to figure out your aversion to shrimp with eggs? Do you not like eggs? Or is it the shrimp? Or the combo of the two?

                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                      It's glop. I've never had it not be glop, and I've seen it (and tried it) in two dozen places in the SGV, though all more than 7 years ago.

                                      It doesn't TASTE like anything, either. The eggs are just sort of there and sulfurous and the shrimp don't add anything and it's all just sort of bland and underseasoned and the sort of pabulum you feed someone who's had stomach flu and has to eat bland, soft foods.

                                      It's just bletcherous.

                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                        小魚炒蛋 (fishlings or white bait/icefish, more common as shirasu or shirauo in Japan, stir fried with eggs) is another great comfort food dish. The more common version is cooked till the eggs are well done. Throw in scallions or chives or garlic bulb and/or pork fat for extra enjoyment.

                                        1. re: K K

                                          That egg with whitefish is one of my favorites. I'll get it at several NYC Cantonese places where I find it on the menu. I do find it better when the eggs are still slightly runny. I tend to think the better cooks keep the runny texture, while the inexperienced ones will overcook the eggs.

                                          1. re: E Eto

                                            Have you ever tried those eggrolls in NYC? Deeelish!

                                            Mr Taster

                                            1. re: E Eto

                                              E Eto, do you know if whitefishlings with egg is found in rural Japanese home cooking?

                                              The fishlings (in fresh undried and unfrozen form) are not very common in Cantonese restaurants in California, so the much larger fatter smelt is used instead. And they usually just deep fry it with a salt and pepper batter coating and call it "salt pepper white rice fish" in Chinese, as it is meant to be wolfed down with rice. Low tech goodness basically. In Hong Kong however, they use the little fishlings (and not smelt) with eggs as being optional.

                                              But yes, smooth egg on the runny but cooked side, is the mark of a chef with serious wok stir fry skills.

                                      2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                        I think we are (to some degree) lost in translation here. I am sticking to the discussion of 滑蛋蝦仁, not just any Chinese food with egg and shrimp. The key word is 滑蛋 here, meaning the egg has to be running. If it's fluffy, it's not a variation, it's a different dish. The shrimp of course should not be over cooked, otherwise; the textures do not match (with the running eggs). I'd argue better examples of the similar dishes are not necessarily with shrimp at all. 滑蛋牛肉, beef with running eggs, rather, is a much better comparison.
                                        If you do not like 滑蛋牛肉 too, then we can't help you :-) . Otherwise, you might have not given the real dish a fair test yet.