A curious and delicious East Asian street food, the oyster omelette is as contentious as it is popular. Not because its taste is divisive, rather because, like many iconic foods, its origins are hotly disputed.
Although oyster and omelette might sound like a peculiar combo to Western ears, it’s converted many. We suggest you look past any controversy and just tuck in. Here we’ll show you how to make one at home – but first, a little background.
What is an oyster omelette?
The oyster omelette is a signature savoury dish of China’s Hokkien people. It’s thought to have originated in the region of Fujian, on China’s south-east coast. Despite these origins, many people believe it to be a traditional Thai dish, due to it being one of Thailand’s most prominent street foods (mussel omelettes, however, are an authentic Thai creation adapted from the Hokkien oyster omelette).
The oyster omelette’s prevalence in Thai street food culture came about because of the Hokkien diaspora in Thailand. For similar reasons, the oyster omelette is also a popular dish in the night markets of Taiwan, as well as being a popular street food in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines, where it is sometimes known as oyster cake.
Oyster omelette is prepared by adding small oysters to a mixture of sweet potato starch and egg batter. What it’s then served with depends on the region, but you can often expect some sort of hot chilli sauce or sweet and spicy tomato sauce, as well as a squeeze of lime.
Oyster omelette recipe: the step-by-step method
This recipe makes four servings. You can also sub the sweet potato flour for tapioca flour.
Oyster omelette ingredients
Sweet potato flour mixture:
130g sweet potato flour
70g all-purpose flour
1 tsp fine salt
Rice flour mixture:
30g rice flour
200–250ml (approx.) cooking oil
8 tsp light soy sauce
4 tsp fish sauce
4 tsp Chinese cooking wine
4 tbsp garlic paste
24 small oysters
2 spring onions, chopped
Coriander leaves to garnish
Oyster omelette method
Make the first of your flour mixtures by thoroughly mixing the sweet potato flour and plain flour with the water and salt. Remove any lumps by straining the mixture into a mixing bowl. Then set it aside.
Make the second flour mixture by thoroughly mixing the rice flour with the water. Again, strain the mixture into a mixing bowl and set that aside too.
Separate approximately 20–30g of the rice flour mixture. Toss the oysters in it and then drain them.
Lightly oil a non-stick pan and, in a swirling motion, spread approximately 100ml of the rice flour mixture over it until it evenly covers the entire surface. Then cook over a medium-high heat until the rice flour turns into a rice paper base.
Lower the heat and spread approximately 230ml of the sweet potato flour mix over the rice paper base (in a swirl, just as you did with the rice flour mixture).
Once the sweet potato flour mix is evenly spread across the pan, crack 3 eggs over it, quickly adding 2 teaspoons of light soy sauce, 1 teaspoon of fish sauce, and 1 teaspoon of the Chinese cooking wine. Spread this, again in a swirling motion, so that the ingredients combine as you do so.
As the omelette cooks, sear a quarter of the oysters for a few seconds in a frying pan. Once the omelette is about ⅔ cooked, stir the oysters into it with some freshly chopped spring onions.
Once the omelette has started to brown underneath and is almost cooked (but still a bit wet) on top, cut it into quarters with your spatula and flip each piece. Make a small gap in the middle of the quarters and drizzle in another teaspoon of oil.
Once that teaspoon of oil heats up, dollop 1 teaspoon of garlic, 1 teaspoon of chilli paste and 2 teaspoons of oil into the middle. Once those ingredients start to sizzle, start moving the omelette quarter around until they’re coated in the garlic and chilli. Then take the pan off the heat.
To make up to four portions, repeat steps four to nine until done.
Transfer the oyster omelette to a plate and garnish with coriander.
Interested in more East Asian delicacies with seafood and egg? Then check out this video of a giant crab omelette being made at Bangkok’s legendary Jay Fai (Auntie Mole) street food restaurant. And yes, the restaurant’s eccentric owner always wears those ski goggles and the snow cap when she’s cooking. But don’t let that distract from her expert technique as she intricately cooks the giant omelette over a huge charcoal fire. She didn’t win a Michelin star for nothing.
Here she is at the Mad Symposium showing off her famous dish.
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