Simple, Versatile: Chinese Steamed Eggs

I love it when my father-in-law visits.  He always teaches me a new dish that is easy to prepare and wickedly economical.  He is super savvy about stretching household staples and grocery budgets.  (Among his many talents, let me add.)  It’s amazing to me how well we can communicate considering I don’t speak Cantonese and he speaks very limited English.  Often we are left asking my mother-in-law or husband to translate because we can see that we’ve lost the thread of the dialogue, but we can still cook together.

I love that.

Over the years, he has taught me several easy dishes.  All without knowing that I was taking copious notes in my mind as I watched him work without effort to make dinner for 10 or more of us.  When he cooks, I find things that open my eyes further and stretch my cooking basics more.  Learning how to make boh-jay-fahn (Chinese homestyle chicken and rice) changed my easy winter night cooking.  I can have everything prepped the night before, if I need too.  Easy!

And this visit with my in-laws wasn’t disappointing either.  He prepped a taro and chicken stew that I was sure would lead down the “mushy-taro” path – but NO!  It was surprisingly delicious with fabulous taro-texture – much more like baked potato than squishy poi. 😀  I like taro – but have not had a lot of luck making it the way he did without making it mushy.  Now, I will work to recreate what he made.  I was a little distracted watching kids and washing dishes and well… trying to stay out of his way in our small kitchen while observing at the same time.  I think I missed a few steps.  But, I can tell you this:  For under $10.00, he made dinner for 10.  And it was fabulous.

Another night during this trip, my nine-year-old niece requested noodles.  Again, my father-in-law showed me how to make (gluten free, of course) a fabulous rice noodle dish that we gobbled up in no time.

And again, another request by my niece but this time for me, steamed eggs to go with her rice.

Say what? I asked her to clarify:  did you mean poached eggs?  No.  Steamed, she said.  Then she said “you know, cook it in water”.  I completely thought she meant poached.  But then I heard my father-in-law ask her in Chinese. And he turned to me and said, “No, steamed.  I show you.”

Really?  Where have I been!  I’ve been poaching, baked, scrambled, over-easy, fried (American and Spanish versions), frittata, Tortilla Patata…, but steamed?  Nope.  Haven’t done it.  Never really thought about it – and certainly not like this.

And since they’ve left, I’ve made it 5-6 more times.  Each time I’ve varied from the traditional seasonings a bit just to see what I could do with it.  (My Love still prefers the traditional seasonings…. so does the Chicklet.  But the baby?  Forget about it.  She’ll eat it all.  And then some!)

So here it goes – Steamed Eggs.

Steamed eggs are light and fluffy – beyond your wildest fluffy scrambled eggs.  They are almost “airy”, but not quite.  While you can definitely scoop and eat these eggs just like a pudding, we’ve been mixing them in to rice for ourselves and the kids.  (It’s how my niece likes her steamed eggs:  mixed into her rice; so I’ve followed along.)  I have to admit, it adds a nice flavoring and new softer texture to our rice (whether it be white or brown).  I’m rather addicted.

I even went so far as to mold some of rice/egg mixture like I have for lunch boxes before.  These are much softer.  Before I just added scrambled egg to my rice and molded.  But these are more moist.  I’m betting they will be even better for lunch the next day since they will hang on to the moisture longer.  YES!  A new gluten free lunch treat for the bento box.  (I’m relatively easy to please…. most days!)

To make your own steamed eggs, I suggest starting with the traditional seasoning (listed below) before experimenting.  So far, we like the eggs + water combination (savory) better than the eggs + milk (sweet).   Maybe that’s just my family, but they seem lighter in texture too without the added milk.

Gluten Free Chinese Steamed Eggs
2 eggs
6 ounces water (for savory) or 5 ounces of milk (for “sweet”)
splash of GF seasonings

  • salt/pepper, drizzle of sesame oil
  • OPTIONS:  Gluten free soy sauce (this will change the color of your eggs though), garlic powder, minced dried onion, etc.  Here are some combinations I’ve used:
  • sesame oil, garlic powder, GF soy sauce, minced onion (dried), salt/pepper
  • garlic powder, shaved parmesan, dried green onion (or some finely chopped fresh)
  • dried Herbs de Provence, olive oil
SET UP:  Chose a bowl (twice the depth of your egg mixture) that can fit into a deep pot with a lid for steaming.  I used a small glass bowl that we have (to hand the heat).  In the pot, I filled the bottom with 2 inches of water and then put a small ramekin (custard ceramic cup) in the middle of the pot at the bottom filled 2/3 of the way with water.  The water in the ramekin helped keep it weighted down, but I didn’t fill it because you don’t want the water to touch the cooking bowl which you will set on top of the ramekin.  Test your set up before turning on the heat.  It should look like this:  (Yes, I am slightly horrified by my computer drawing…it’s definitely NOT my talent!)
PS.  Your pot needs a lid.  And there was no way I was going to attempt to draw that!  LOL  
(Be glad I didn’t color in the eggs too!)
  1. In a bowl twice the depth of your egg mixture (but still small enough to fit inside a pan), dump all of your ingredients:  eggs, oil, seasonings, water (or milk).  Whisk together.

Chinese Steamed Eggs - Step 1

        2. Carefully place your bowl into your fabulous set-up (as described above).

 Chinese Steamed Eggs - Step 2

       3.  Steam until the eggs firm up a bit and the top is no longer glossy – with visible runny egg.  This takes about 5-8 minutes depending on your ingredients.  (Longer if you use milk, cheese/milk or cheese/water).

 Chinese Steamed Eggs = done! (Step 3)

  • You can see the sesame oil on top of the eggs in the picture above.
    These eggs were done.
    The oil just comes to the top when steaming.
    Stir it back in before serving.

Happy Gluten Free, egg-steaming!

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