Sunday, June 9, 2013

Scrambled Eggs the Chinese Way

Some year ago I visited a good childhood friend in Toronto, staying overnight for a couple of days. My friend delivered bread from a bakery so his work started well before dawn—in fact even before some folks hit the bed for the night. His wife was a late riser and I would’ve gladly fixed my own breakfast (even though I dislike trying to find things in someone else’s kitchen). But their ten-year old daughter, Jenny insisted that she will scramble two eggs for me.

She put a sauté pan on high heat while she lightly beat the eggs, adding salt and pepper and some chopped scallions. Wooden spoon in one hand and serving plate ready, she swirled a teaspoon of vegetable oil in the smoking hot pan then she quickly dumped the eggs into the hot oil and within fifteen or twenty seconds the eggs were done.

As a food expert I was dismayed, knowing that only slow heat can produce good, creamy-soft scrambled eggs but, not trying to hurt her feelings, I accepted my fate with resignation. I sat down to have the best scrambled eggs anyone ever served me. What happened?

Jenny actually stir-fried the eggs so quickly that they didn’t lose their natural moisture. Ordinarily the tight spring-like protein molecules of the eggs unfold on cooking, and the heat drives off their moisture, turning the scrambled eggs dry. Yet Jenny’s cooking process was so fast that the proteins retained their moisture. The eggs coagulated in the pan and remained soft and flavorful thanks to the high heat.

Try this simple method next time you have scrambled eggs in a meal plan. Just make sure everything is ready. You cannot leave the eggs in the hot pan even ten seconds too long.

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