Cantonese Whampoa Eggs: Scrambled Egg's Luscious Cousin

Chinese cuisine is made up of wide range of dishes and serves as a comfort food that we can all look forward to at the end of a long day. Whether you're breaking into your leftover egg rolls or dining in for juicy xiao long bao, Chinese food never lets us down. Whatever your go-to order is, you may have noticed some of the ingredients that almost always make an appearance. Eggs, for example, are a huge part of Asian culinary culture, according to Asian Inspirations. From light creamy soups to crispy fried eggs drizzled with chili oil, eggs can be used in a variety of ways. 

But, have you heard of Cantonese whampoa eggs? Whampoa eggs, also known as slippery eggs or Cantonese-style scrambled eggs, refers to a specific way of making scrambled eggs, per Serious Eats. There are many variations of the dish and unique customizations, however, there is one important ingredient that sets it apart from other egg dishes: cornstarch. 


While whampoa eggs may look simple, they can have a pretty long ingredient list, namely in the seasoning section. The integral ingredient, however, that makes them true Cantonese whampoa eggs is cornstarch. The cornstarch keeps the egg moist and prevents overcooking, according to Chinese Cooking Demystified. The slippery eggs would not truly be "slippery" without it, as it provides that coveted luscious texture. Although, as the YouTuber points out, the eggs will still maintain the curd-y texture, but are more soft than traditional Western-style scrambled eggs.

Slate also notes that eggs being cooked too quickly can result in the proteins seizing up, which creates the dry scrambled eggs we all dread. By adding in a small amount of cornstarch, it blocks those protein connections, and retains the moisture. When it comes to seasonings, Western-style scrambled eggs usually stick to salt and pepper. Some may add milk, butter, or cream for added richness. But, these Cantonese-style eggs are often seasoned with salt, sugar, white pepper, MSG, Shaoxing wine, and sesame oil. Other ingredients like meat and vegetables can be also added, but it will likely depend on the variation of the dish you're going for.

How to make whampoa eggs

If you're making whampoa eggs at home, you're in luck. This is a very simple and easy dish to enjoy for your next breakfast, and Chinese Cooking Demystified breaks it down for first timers. 

For a standard dish, you will need five eggs and the first step is to separate the egg yolks and whites into two separate bowls. While this step is not essential, it is typically used in restaurants. The whites should then be whisked until foamy, and then the yolks can be stirred in. At this point, your choice of seasonings can be mixed into the eggs.

For cooking, a wok is preferable and should be "piping" hot. Lard is the best oil to use here, according to Bento Buster, as it is the most authentic. However, butter or ghee will do if you don't have lard on hand. At this point, the eggs can be dropped in. They should puff up and not be immediately whisked. Once puffed up, the pan can be moved off the heat and briefly stirred, then put back on the heat. This process should be repeated until the entire egg is cooked. If you just want the pure version of the dish, enjoy as is, but there are several fun mix ins that can also be added.

Recipe variations

Since Cantonese whampoa eggs are really just a different way of scrambling eggs, the technique can be used in all sorts of dishes. They can be eaten alone or enjoyed over rice with a few additions, as Serious Eats points out in their Cantonese whampoa egg recipes. But adding certain ingredients can create a new dish altogether.

One of the most popular variations is Cantonese whampoa eggs with beef. YouTuber John Chu stir fries strips of flank steak and adds them to the eggs for a salty, luscious meal. Food blogger Black Buddha adds in vegetables like peas, scallion, and garlic to his version. Shrimp is another popular protein that can be added in, per Made with Lau's recipe

Egg drop soup can also be made with Cantonese whampoa eggs. Egg drop soup, according to The Woks of Life, is made from simply dropping raw egg into hot soup, as the name infers. The key is to swirl the pattern in the soup by adding cornstarch to the eggs, making Cantonese whampoa eggs the perfect addition to this soup. The hot soup should be stirred to create a mini vortex as the eggs are slowly poured in. No matter how you serve them, these luscious eggs definitely deserve a spot on your breakfast roster.