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Sunday, January 07, 2007

Taiwanese Oyster Pancake

After several test runs, I'm ready to post my recipe for Taiwanese oyster omelets and accompanying sauce. Honestly, this tastes better than the versions at most restaurants. Not because I'm so great at making it, but because restaurants in the states are so terrible at getting it right. If you think about it, not that many restaurants get regular egg omlets right either, so maybe I shouldn't be surprised.

  • 1/2 bag of frozen oysters from an Asian market, or 7-10 oysters depending on your budget and preference.
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 sprig Chinese lettuce (a-chai), about 10 leaves
  • 2 eggs, well beaten
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch or sweet potato starch
Defrost the oysters, and cut them in half if they're any bigger than an inch and a half long. In Taiwan, there's an abundance of marble sized oysters so that's what they get to use. Save any liquor that results from defrosting.
Start heating a tablespoon of neutral oil in a large nonstick pan or wok over high heat. Combine the beaten eggs, half a teaspoon of salt, and the vegetables in a bowl. Lightly toss to coat everything with the eggs. Set aside.
Add enough water to the oyster liquor to make 1/2 a cup of liquid. Add the starch to this and stir until it's completely smooth. Remember to give it a stir before you pour it into the pan, as starch settles to the bottom of a cup of water very quickly.
When the oil starts smoking, pour in the starch, then the egg mixture, and stir a few times with a wooden spoon. Because you do want the starch and egg to stay somewhat separate, your stirring should be scraping the bottom of the wok a few different directions a few times, not vigorous stirring. Stirring like this also helps more of the liquid come into contact with the bottom of the wok and brings up the bits that are already cooked, speeding up the cooking time a little. I tried this in a cast iron pot (above), but I would not recommend it because there's no room for flipping. A large wok worked much better.
Turn the flame down to medium, and let sit until the bottom becomes crusty and golden. The omelet is ready to flip when you can gently shake it around the pan without any of it sticking. It should take several minutes, during which you can make the sauce below. Flip the pancake, turn the flame down just a bit, let the other side get crusty as well. This one was flipped prematurely, but only by maybe 30 seconds.
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup soy paste (you'll see it next to the soy sauce; it's thick like hoisin sauce, and also great on daikon cakes!)
  • 1 glove garlic, completely pulverized
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar, or more if you like. White sugar is fine too
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed into a slurry with 4 tablespoons water
Combine everything but the starch in a small pan, and stir to combine over low heat. When it starts to boil, add half the cornstarch slurry and whisk well to combine. The sauce will start to thicken immediately. If you want it thicker, add the rest of the cornstarch. If the flavor's too intense, or if you add too much starch, you can add a splash of water and whisk it in to thin out the sauce.


Anonymous said...

OMG, I'm going to try to make it next weekend! - T.

Sarah said...

When do you add the oysters?

Pei said...

Sorry about that mistake; I'll edit later to say that you put the oysters in the egg mixture. You could also sprinkle them on while you wait for the first side to cook, but putting them in the egg mixture cuts down on the number of steps. Just make sure you use your spatula to distribute them somewhat.

Anonymous said...

Why didn't you use canned oysters? - C

Anonymous said...

Canned oysters?! Blasphemy! -J

Anonymous said...

I meant freshly bottled oysters with their juices and all... - C

Pei said...

Because those oysters are usually grotesquely enormous. Plus, I actually think the frozen ones taste fresher. They're probably flash frozen while fresh and kept frozen until you buy them, while the ones in jars live in a refrigerator for who knows how long.

Eileen said...

I miss Taiwanese oyster pancake. I'm going to try your recipe this weekend. I will let you know how it turns out. ^^

Pei said...

Yay! If you and T both make it and send me photos, we can have an oyster omelet photo gallery!

Pardon the lack of posts, everyone; Blogger is switching to a new version and the whole site is not working.

Ricardo said...

Looks good. Can we get some fried chicken legs too?

Sean said...

i ABSOLUTELY love o ah gen.......i would eat it everyday if i could.

thank you SO MUCH for posting this, the pictures, the instructions, the details. you are the best.

i am going to follow this step by step and make it so i can enjoy it too.

i wish one of my local chinese places would have it but they dont, i have to drive 40 minutes to buy one if i wanted to eat it.

now i am going to try to make it myself.

thank you so much.

eatdrinknbmerry said...

hi pei. thanks for posting this recipe. i ate this today at some place in Temple City and I started to miss my time in Taiwan 2 years ago. God... the night markets!

Wendy said...

Hi, thank you SO much for posting this! I've been seriously craving Taiwanese food lately.

reiko said...

In a large flat frying pan, oyster is first fried in oil. Then you add the tapioca starch and water mix. Pan fry until the water has evaporated about 70%. You then break an egg onto the top of the oyster pancake. After a couple minutes you flip the pancake so that the egg is frying on the bottom. Fry for a few minutes more. Then you can put either Tong Hao or spinach leaves on the bottom side of the pancake and flip itso that the leaves cook. Pour out onto a plate and pour sauce over the oyster pancake.