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Friday, January 18, 2013

Tricolor Steamed Eggs with Minced Meat 肉碎蒸三色蛋

This tricolor steamed egg was one of the first dishes that I tried making when I first started in the kitchen. Back then the idea of getting a bowl of silky smooth eggs had never crossed my mind, at least not with my first few trials. One that tasted good and right was all that I was aiming for. It was after I had got that taste and flavor parts right did I start paying a little more attention to the details that come with steaming eggs. Things did not come quite as easily though. I had had a good number of bad experiences with this; some was so wrong they had to go into the bin coming out of the steamer. 

Soon this steamed eggs started to feel very much like a piece of art itself. And when you finally get to open the steamer lid one day to reveal a velvety smooth eggs steamed to perfection, it will first be the self satisfaction and pride that get you so overwhelmed before anything else comes next. So much so that spending a good amount of time admiring the piece of work of yours quietly is almost always guaranteed before you can make do with the idea of presenting it away and indulging it next.

My two cents' worth:
  •  Having three different kinds of eggs will have really sufficed in making a good dish out of these. It is totally a personal preference that I love adding a touch of meat to enhance the general texture this dish takes. A bite in between the velvety smooth eggs - not too bad an idea, no? lol. Have them lightly stir fried with some minced garlic prior to steaming makes sure that the meats are at their best presentation, taste and appearance wise. 
  • The right amount of water to be used is to me a crucial issue that also poses as the biggest challenge I had had. My thumb of rule? Maintain a ratio of water:beaten egg at 1.5:1. Add in only bubbly warm water (not boiling hot). That will make sure that no time and heat will go wasted in regulating the internal temperature when put to steam later. 
  • The right heat to be used really does depend of your steaming apparatus. Settle for the lowest heat that your steamer can manage. This will mean a level where a continuous stream of steam can be seen. In my case with my electric stove top, I needed one close to a medium heat. Any lower and the steam flow will get disrupted as the element heats and cools periodically. So do adjust that part accordingly. 
  • Time needed will vary depending on the serving size and heat supply. Make the first 10-minute your first check point. Remove the lid (the steam needs some escaping which will do good anyway) and check the eggs. 
    • Watery? Let steam and recheck 5 minutes later.
    • Wobbly and looking set but not totally? Give it another 2 to 3 minutes.
    • All set and looking smooth and silky? They are good to go!
Sounds a little challenging, do they not? But this is one so worth mastering because once you have got the concept right, steamed eggs regardless of which variation you opt for will never look the same again!

Tricolor Steamed Eggs with Minced Meat 肉碎蒸三色蛋
Serves 3-4
4 large eggs
1 cooked salted egg
1 century egg
1/4lb ground pork
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp cooking oil
2 dashes white pepper powder
1 tsp light soy sauce
enough bubbly warm water (~1.5x beaten egg volume) 

Meat marinade
a dash of white pepper powder
1 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil   

1/2 tsp corn flour   

1 stalk spring onion, chopped
1 tbsp fried garlic with oil
1 tsp light soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil 

1. Have the meat marinated slightly in advance. Leave refrigerated until cooking time. Break the eggs in a bowl. Crack the century egg, remove shell and dice into cubes. As with the cooked salted egg, halve the egg lengthwise and scoop out the content with a spoon. Similarly, dice into cubes. Set aside.

2. Heat the cooking oil in a skillet. Once well heated, add in the minced garlic and stir fry until aromatic. Bring in the marinated meat next. Stir-fry until the color changes, breaking into smaller pieces in the process. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Add in the white pepper powder and light soy sauce into the bowl of eggs. Beat lightly to mix well.
4. Bring some water to slow heat in a small sauce pan. Once the bubbles start forming, remove from heat. Measure 1.5x the amount of egg in (3). Pour the water into the bowl of beaten eggs gently.

5. Transfer the meat into a steaming bowl. 
6. Strain the egg mixture through a sieve into the bowl. 
7. Scatter the diced eggs into the bowl, distributing them around the bowl as evenly as you can.
8. Transfer the bowl into the steamer with enough boiling water in it. Make sure that the bowl is not in contact with the boiling water. It is the steam that we are looking for. Turn the heat down to the point where you can still get a continuous stream of steam with a minimal heat supply. Let steam and check periodically. Mine took me about 15 to 17 minutes before they were all done.
9. Once the eggs have set elegantly, carefully remove the bowl from heat. Garnish and serve hot.

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