Monday, February 21, 2011

Stir Fried Eggs with Salty Ham and Scallions

What a fancy name for scrambled eggs! This post was inspired by a few of my friends who wanted to know how to make a Chinese-style breakfast. I'm sure you have all heard of Congee or Jook. Haven't you? If not you are missing something, because it is one of the world's most comforting foods. It is basically rice porridge and it's really simple. It's something I ate a lot as a child - usually for breakfast and always when I was sick. My mother makes it with leftover rice that she adds water to in the morning and then she cooks it until it is very hot and the rice is very soft. Some people make Congee or Jook with chicken broth and pieces of chicken and it becomes more of a hearty main dish. But I like it plain. If you don't have any leftover rice, you can make it like I did last night - put a handful of rice in a pot with about 3 times the water and then cook the rice until it is soft. This kind of Congee needs savory and spicy things to go with it. Some of my favorite things are crunchy fried onions and pickled lettuce (the stems not the leaves) and chili sauce. These can all be found in a Chinese market and if you live in a big city, you can probably find them at the regular grocery store. But, my absolute favorite accompaniment to Congee is Stir Fried Eggs. What I like best is the creaminess of the scrambled eggs, the saltiness of the ham and the savory green onions. It's drizzled with soy sauce and sesame oil and I love it. I actually had it for dinner last night, but breakfast for dinner is a tradition in my family and so is leftover dinner for breakfast.....

Anyway, these stir fried eggs are very similar in flavor to the Japanese shredded eggs - eggs fried in a pan until solid and then cut into shreds and seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil. But the little pieces of ham and the green onions are the best part to me and they are held together by the eggs. Be sure to use a salty ham if you can - like a Smithfield Virginia Ham or Country Ham. But if you can't find either of those, you can also use bacon, cooked and crumbled into bits. I'm giving you the recipe for one to two servings - if you have other sides, but it can easily be doubled, tripled or quadrupled to serve more people. My grandfather used to make these same kind of eggs with scallions and crab and it was divine until I could no longer eat crab - but if you can, you should try that version. You can also use tomatoes or Shitake mushrooms for yet another version and you can also drizzle the eggs with Oyster Sauce diluted with a little hot water if you like that better. My sons calls all these egg dishes "Chinese Eggs and Stuff," which is a pretty good name too!

Stir Fried Eggs with Salty Ham and Scallions

2 eggs, cracked into a small bowl and stirred with chopsticks until lightly blended
2 -3 green onions/scallions (depending on size), ends removed and cut into small pieces
1/4 cup salty ham or already cooked bacon, crumbled
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspons Soy Sauce or Tamari
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Sprinkle of freshly ground pepper

Optional Ingredients:

1/4 cup flaked crab meat
4 Shitake mushrooms, rehydrated and cut into little pieces
1 Roma tomatoes, cut into large dice
2 Tablespoons Oyster Sauce diluted with 1 teaspoon hot water

Optional to serve on the side:

Chili sauce - I like Lee Kum Kee Chili Garlic Sauce
Pickled Lettuce
Crisp Fried Onions or Shallots

In a small nonstick frying pan, heat vegetable oil and add scallions. Cook until you just start to smell the fragrance of them and add in the ham or bacon. Cook until ham is hot and then pour in eggs. Let set for a few moments and then start pulling back the sides, tilting the pan to let the uncooked egg run into the empty space. Keep pulling until the top is still moist but not runny and the start to break into chunks while turning it over. Take off heat only a few moments after turning the eggs and put onto a plate. Drizzle with the soy sauce and sesame oil (or oyster sauce) and sprinkle with pepper and serve immediately.

Five Element Analysis

Eggs belong to the Water Element as they are all about potential life and they are full of nutrients and the salty ham, soy sauce and sesame oil all or oyster sauce all add more Water. When served with Congee, you bring the Metal Element in with the white rice, but the soupy nature of Congee adds even more Water. The scallions bring in more of the Metal Element and the pepper adds just a pinch of Fire, which is why you need to serve it with some hot chili sauce or some tea or tomatoes. The Earth Element is missing unless you add the Crisp Fried Onions or mushrooms or you could also serve something sweet like fruit to balance the meal.

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