Tuesday, 8 April 2014

XO-llent Eastern Easter eggs - steamed egg custard with XO sauce

Apologies for the lack of post last week- it's the first week I've missed since starting the blog and I've been feeling guilty about it all week...well, not too guilty considering I spent a lovely weekend in Cambridge basking in the sun eating scones (they most certainly don't count as bread..right? Oh gawd, maybe I now have two things to be guilty about)
However, it did give me time to take a step back from the blog and see I hadn't done a traditional recipe from Hong Kong for a while. And although this dish might not be a regular on menus, it definitely was at Mama Lo's house. A traditional home-style one dish wonder, it is super cheap to make and feasible for both breakfast and dinner times (so twice the reason to make this!). Whilst most of my friends were tucking into fish fingers and chips for tea, I'd be requesting this comforting bowl of plain rice and steamed egg to place in my hands and chow down on in front of watching the Flintstones or Wacky Races on TV (and thus, giving myself away as a classic child of the 80's). Similar to the consistency of panna cotta, it is an unbelievably smooth texture, which breaks off like a delicate tofu piece (and with more punchy flavour too). It almost creates its own sauce as its so good to eat with rice on its own. It totally dominates scrambled eggs any day, and if you're looking for something different to your normal omelette, scrambled, poached eggs rut, look no further.
XO-llent sauce for royalty: scallops, prawns and chilli

For this recipe, I've added on top a great (optional) sauce called 'XO sauce' to elevate this into a full meal - which, to the Chinese, is the GOD of sauces. It's a sort of prestigious condiment, which is more a mini meal in itself. It is a spicy seafood sauce made from prawns, scallops and ham - and originates from HK restaurants in the 80's. The reason why it's called XO - is from XO cognac. However, there isn't a single drop of the stuff in there, it just denotes how 'prestigious' and high end this sauce is, as it would only be served in restaurants of the highest standards. It's relatively cheap to buy in jars in China town, but I definitely would try making your own.
The egg 'custard' calls for this wondrous seasoning known Maggi sauce - it's a true underdog of Asian seasoning (maybe given its origins are actually from Switzerland), but if you don't have this it's not the end of the world.
One Happy Meal please

Steamed egg custard:

3 good quality eggs
220ml of hot water and 2 tsp of chicken flavouring powder (chicken stock works too)
Generous pinch of ground white pepper (optional)
1 tsp Shaosing rice wine (optional)
Maggi sauce for seasoning (optional)
2 tsp Sesame oil for finishing

In a bowl, whisk with some chopsticks the eggs until you can't see any egg white strands. Slowly whisk in the hot stock and add the pepper and rice wine.
Poor through a sieve (this is important if you want smooth eggs!) into a shallow dish, and cover with tin foil tightly.
Prepare your steamer - I use a little metal rack/stand over a wide wok of boiling water, making sure that the stand is higher than the water level (you don't want the bowl of eggs actually touching the water, just enough for the steam to cook. Cover the wok with a lid if you can and steam on a medium heat for 15 minutes.
When you uncover the foil from the top, give the bowl a little wiggle - it should be firm, but you should see some give in terms of a jiggle! If it is not holding its shape still, keep it in the steamer for 5 to 10 minutes (checking regularly). Carefully take the bowl out, and serve with some maggi sauce, sesame oil and chopped spring onions if you fancy. Otherwise, light soy sauce does the trick.

XO-llent XO sauce

80 grams dried frozen scallops (small, frozen scallops can be found in the freezer section of most Asian grocery stores)
40 grams dried frozen shrimps (again, in Asian grocery stores)
3 rashers of streaky bacon (or you can use Jamon iberico if you're feeling super fancy)
3 dried chillies, chopped into small pieces
4 cloves of garlic
Approx 200ml of vegetable oil (or enough to cover over the ingredients)
1/2 tsp of shrimp paste
2 tsp of sugar

In two bowls with 110ml of hot water in each, soak the scallops and dried prawns separately. Leave these preferably overnight, but if can be left for just 30 minutes if you really need.
Drain the water from the scallops (and keep this water) and with your fingers, gently rip into fine shreds (this should be easy to do, just follow the grain). Dry these with some paper as much as you can - it's important to try and take out as much water as possible, otherwise if they come in contact with oil you'll have flying hot scallop shreds and oil all over your kitchen. TRUST ME, it's not great. Or safe. Drain the prawns and finely chop.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok over a medium high heat, and once hot, add the scallops until they are crisp (only needs a few minutes). As soon as they enter the wok, cover with a lid as they may jump around a bit. Place the scallops aside and add the garlic, prawns, chopped chillies and shrimp paste. turn to a low heat after 5 minutes.
In a separate pan, fry up the bacon and finely chop into strands. Add to the wok full of ingredients, and return the scallops in the mix also. If you have any remaining water from soaking the scallops, add this in and on a low heat simmer away the water for about 20 minutes.
Add sugar to taste and then remove from the heat and transfer into sterilised jars. Fill jars up to 3/4 full and top up with oil to cover. Keeps in sterilsed jars for over a month.


  1. Love traditional recipes like this, and I'm always looking for a new way to cook eggs. I just might be adventurous enough to try that yummy XO sauce too!

    1. Thanks Trisha - hope you enjoy it. Let me know how it goes! Having a dinner party tonight, and they've requested this recipe so I guess its round two for me!