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Pictorial: Steamed Egg Custard with Conpoy


hzrt8w
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Steamed Egg Custard with Conpoy (瑤柱蒸金銀蛋)

We talk about home style cookings in this series. Nothing can be easier and more homey than Steamed Egg Custard. This is a Cantonese dish that virtually known to every family living in Hong Kong and Canton vicinity. Yet you cannot find this dish offered in over 90% of the restaurants. Perhaps steamed eggs are considered "not restaurant worthy" because they are cheap?

There are many variations on the filling to put in the steamed egg custard. I chose dried conpoy, dried shrimp, thousand year eggs and salty eggs this time. Some puts in marinated ground pork, or ground beef. I have seen pictures of steamed egg custard with fresh clams (with shells) from Golden Mountain Restaurant in San Francisco. You may put in whatever that fits your taste.

Picture of the finished dish:

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Serving Suggestion: 2 to 3

Preparations:

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Main ingredients: (From top left, clockwise) 7 regular, large-size chicken eggs, 2 salty duck eggs, 2 to 3 thousand year eggs, 1 handful of dried shrimp (about 3 to 4 tblsp), 5 to 6 dried conpoy, 2 green onions.

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The best is to soak the dried conpoy overnight. They do require a lengthy soaking time to soften. (Add the soaking liquid to the egg custard, as shown later.) Soak the dried shrimp for only about an hour before cooking.

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Use a big bowl, first break 7 eggs. Add to the bowl. Break 2 salty duck eggs. Seprate the egg white from egg yolk. Set the salty egg yolks aside. Add the salty egg white onto the bowl. Use an egg beater or a pair of chopsticks to whisk the eggs thoroughly. About 30 seconds.

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Carefully fold in some water to dilute the beaten eggs. I cannot tell you exactly how much water to use because it depends on the size of the eggs. Generally, use a 10:7 egg-to-water ratio by volume. The more diluted the egg custard is, the longer it takes to steam, and the softer the custard is. But don't make it too diluted where the custard will not solidify.

There is a trick I learned from some fellow posters: if you want the egg custard to turn out smooth as silk, don't use tap water. Use boiled water instead because it doesn't contain air bubbles. When you steam egg custard diluted with boiled water, the custard would not form air bubbles inside.

Gently mix the beaten eggs with water for about 30 seconds.

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Use a deep steaming dish. First, hand-tear the soaked dried conpoy into shreds. Spread evenly on the steaming dish. Sprinkle on top with a pinch of salt (suggest: 1/4 tsp or to taste).

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Gently fold in the egg custard mixture. Cut the 2 salty egg yolks previously set aside into 2 halves (or 4 quarters). Drop into the egg custard mixture. Spread them evenly.

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Shell the 2 thousand year eggs. Cut eggs into small, irregular wedges.

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Add the wedged thousand year eggs and soaked dried shrimp (drain the soaking water first) into the egg custard mixture. Try to spread them evenly.

Also, trim ends and finely chop the 2 green onions.

Cooking Instructions:

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Place the dish of egg custard mixture in a steamer. Steam for about 25 to 30 minutes. Again: the more diluted the mixture is, the longer it takes to steam.

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When cooked, sprinkle the finely chopped green onions on top. Drizzle about 2 tsp of sesame oil and 1 to 2 tsp of light soy sauce before serving. This is the picture of the finished dish.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Thanks for the great pictures and lesson!!

I usually make my steamed egg custard with only a tablespoon of water(leftover from soaking the scallop) and some dried scallop. My cousin makes a deluxe version by replacing the water with chicken stock, and she probably use a lot much liquid than I did.

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As always hzrt8w, your cooking looks awesome!

oh btw I went to look for those dried scallops, gawd them things are expensive!

...a little bit of this, and a little bit of that....*slurp......^_^.....ehh I think more fish sauce.

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I don't think dried scallops are cheap anywhere. Everytime Mom uses them, she says something like, "these are the cheap kind, and they were $xx a pound!" Our relatives in HK and SF used to send us some for Christmas, and she'd say, "these are the good ones, they're $xxx a pound!" That's probably the only reason why I don't have any in my house. Maybe the next time I visit Mom, she won't miss a few from her stash...

Karen C.

"Oh, suddenly life’s fun, suddenly there’s a reason to get up in the morning – it’s called bacon!" - Sookie St. James

Travelogue: Ten days in Tuscany

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Okay, I'm getting really fascinated by this conpoy stuff. Just how expensive are we talking, here? Would my local 99 Ranch Market carry it? There's a couple different aisles there full of dried foods of various sorts (fish, mushrooms, seaweeds, other vegetables, etc.) in cellophane packages--I'm assuming that's where I'd look for conpoy, right? It may be a few weeks before I can really carry on in the kitchen with new-to-me foods like this, but my curiosity is definitely piqued.

Thanks, hzrt8w, for turning me on with your cooking once again!

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Okay, I'm getting really fascinated by this conpoy stuff. Just how expensive are we talking, here? Would my local 99 Ranch Market carry it? There's a couple different aisles there full of dried foods of various sorts (fish, mushrooms, seaweeds, other vegetables, etc.) in cellophane packages--I'm assuming that's where I'd look for conpoy, right?

[...]

Well... "expensive" is a relative term. Remember we have participants here who dined at USD$1000 per head meals. :laugh: I can share with you my experience shopping for dried conpoy in San Francisco China Town.

I browsed in a dried seafood/herb specialty store on Stockton Street. I saw various grades of dried conpoy from US$40/lb to US$100/lb.

What to look for? The whole ones are more expensive (more desirable) than the broken ones. The bigger size conpoy is more expensive than smaller one. There are some bigger than a quarter, and there are some as small as a dime.

The ones I showed in these pictures were bought at a different store. I found one that sold these dried conpoys (mostly whole, about medium size) for only US$38.00/lb. I said I wanted one pound, and the owner weighed 1 1/4 lb for me(as usual, they always stuff in more than what you asked for to get more $$$). There are more than 100 dried conpoys together. So that makes each piece of dried conpoy about US$0.45 to $0.50. Is this expensive?

While the Asian grocery stores like 99 Ranch may (or may not) carry dried conpoy, the best place to shop for them are specialty dried seafood/herb stores. You can tell who they are. They hang dried squids, dried shark fins and display dried conpoy, ginseng, dried black mushrooms and such at the store front. There probably isn't such a store in San Diego. There are plenty of them in Los Angeles China Town, San Gabriel Valley, and cities where new Chinese immigrants populated.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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While the Asian grocery stores like 99 Ranch may (or may not) carry dried conpoy, the best place to shop for them are specialty dried seafood/herb stores.  You can tell who they are.  They hang dried squids, dried shark fins and display dried conpoy, ginseng, dried black mushrooms and such at the store front.  There probably isn't such a store in San Diego. There are plenty of them in Los Angeles China Town, San Gabriel Valley, and cities where new Chinese immigrants populated.

Many thanks for all the info. I'll see what I can turn up on my next trip up to the LA area.

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Many thanks for all the info. I'll see what I can turn up on my next trip up to the LA area.

rjwong: Would you happen to know any dried seafood/herb stores in LA Chinatown that you can recommend mizducky to drop by and shop for some dried conpoy and other Chinese goodies?

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Ooohh...yummy! I've steamed eggs with cubed cooked fish paste, salted eggs, century eggs, tomatoes :wacko: , mixed cubed veg, sliced and marinated cooked mushrooms, silken tofu, char siew, and etc...but it has NEVER occurred to me to use conpoy. Thanks! BTW, instead of water, I sometimes use homemade soya bean milk to dilute the eggs. I like it quite diluted...almost 1:1....steamed at the lowest fire for 40 mins. Smooth as silk.

TPcal!

Food Pix (plus others)

Please take pictures of all the food you get to try (and if you can, the food at the next tables)............................Dejah

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[...]instead of water, I sometimes use homemade soya bean milk to dilute the eggs. I like it quite diluted...almost 1:1....steamed at the lowest fire for 40 mins. Smooth as silk.

That's interesting! Soya bean milk will definitely make the egg custard even smoother.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Many thanks for all the info. I'll see what I can turn up on my next trip up to the LA area.

One shop that I used to go to buy ginseng and herb and Chinese medicine is "T S Emporium" (I think, I might be off) in Alhambra when I lived in the area. I think they have dried conpoy too. They have pretty a comprehensive line of stuff with reasonable price. They are at the corner of Garvey Ave and Garfield, and to the south side of Garvey. They are next to a Bank of America. Can't miss it.

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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Can't believe it took me this long to find the thread. Steamed Egg custard is a tradition in my family as well although I don't know if it's a classical northern dish. A neat trick is that you can steam the eggs on top of the electric rice cooker as the rice is cooking. That way, you don't have to deal with the hassle of an extra pot and using up a stove burner. Just use the provided steaming basket and it comes out perfectly. However, you have to be careful to use room temp eggs and hot tap water, otherwise it won't steam fully by the time the rice is done.

I've had it served before at restaurants with fresh scallops and shrimp in the custard.

PS: I am a guy.

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  • 2 weeks later...

This wasn't in my family's repertory, but I just made it for the first time and it was awesome! Good enough for non-Chinese guests. I'm definitely adding it to the weeknight lineup.

I only added dried shrimp and it was delicious even without the peidan and conpoy.

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Are there different qualities of conpoy?

Hzrt -- the ones in your picture are larger than those I have and have usually bought.

Conpoy may be expensive, but a little goes a long way, and since they last almost forever, the cost is stretched.

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  • 7 months later...

My mom once taught me how to do this in a microwave but I forgot. It only works with smaller portions of course, like no more than 3 eggs. Any tips? I think the trick was to heat up the water to near boiling before folding in with the eggs and then finishing in the microwave for about five minutes.

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I think the trick was to heat up the water to near boiling before folding in with the eggs and then finishing in the microwave for about five minutes.

If you fold beaten eggs into nearly boiling water, you will solidify the egg immediately before it would mix in with the water. That would become egg drop soup. My guess is maybe mix the beaten eggs with water first, then microwave it instead of steaming it?

W.K. Leung ("Ah Leung") aka "hzrt8w"
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I think the trick was to heat up the water to near boiling before folding in with the eggs and then finishing in the microwave for about five minutes.

If you fold beaten eggs into nearly boiling water, you will solidify the egg immediately before it would mix in with the water. That would become egg drop soup. My guess is maybe mix the beaten eggs with water first, then microwave it instead of steaming it?

I think he means doing it the other way around by tempering the eggs with boiling water. That should bring the mix up to around 60C and you only need to go up 10 or so degrees to reach a custard.

PS: I am a guy.

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  • 2 years later...

I made this yesterday with home-salted chicken eggs, but no shrimp or other salt. I left the eggs out over night with the soaking con poy. Everything was room temperature and ready in the morning.

I made two minor mistakes:

1) used a too-small bowl

2) hade the heat a bit too high

It was still delicious over rice. I intend to experiment with this a bit more, although I really shouldn't eat so many eggs.

BB

Food is all about history and geography.

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      A note on my use of ‘Sichuan’ rather than ‘Szechuan’.
       
      If you ever find yourself in Sichuan, don’t refer to the place as ‘Szechuan’. No one will have any idea what you mean!

      ‘Szechuan’ is the almost prehistoric transliteration of 四川, using the long discredited Wade-Giles romanization system. Thomas Wade was a British diplomat who spoke fluent Mandarin and Cantonese. After retiring as a diplomat, he was elected to the post of professor of Chinese at Cambridge University, becoming the first to hold that post. He had, however, no training in theoretical linguistics. Herbert Giles was his replacement. He (also a diplomat rather than an academic) completed a romanization system begun by Wade. This became popular in the late 19th century, mainly, I suggest, because there was no other!

      Unfortunately, both seem to have been a little hard of hearing. I wish I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked why the Chinese changed the name of their capital from Peking to Beijing. In fact, the name didn’t change at all. It had always been pronounced with /b/ rather than /p/ and /ʤ/ rather than /k/. The only thing which changed was the writing system.

      In 1958, China adopted Pinyin as the standard romanization, not to help dumb foreigners like me, but to help lower China’s historically high illiteracy rate. It worked very well indeed, Today, it is used in primary schools and in some shop or road signs etc., although street signs seldom, if ever, include the necessary tone markers without which it isn't very helpful.
       

      A local shopping mall. The correct pinyin (with tone markers) is 'dōng dū bǎi huò'.
       
      But pinyin's main use today is as the most popular input system for writing Chinese characters on computers and cell-phones. I use it in this way every day, as do most people. It is simpler and more accurate than older romanizations. I learned it in one afternoon.  I doubt anyone could have done that with Wade-Giles.
       
      Pinyin has been recognised for over 30 years as the official romanization by the International Standards Organization (ISO), the United Nations and, believe it or not, The United States of America, along with many others. Despite this recognition, old romanizations linger on, especially in America. Very few people in China know any other than pinyin. 四川 is  'sì chuān' in pinyin.
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