Cathy Erway makes o ah jian, an oyster omelet that originated in China's Fujian province but today is a popular street food item at the night markets in Taiwan. The omelet, featured in Erway's new cookbook, The Food of Taiwan, is prepared on a very hot flat top, but you can make the snack using a nonstick skillet or your trusted cast iron.
Before the omelet is flipped to golden perfection, it's topped with celery leaves, but any mild-tasting leafy green, such as baby bok choy or Swiss chard, can work. And don't worry: The omelet doesn't come together in one perfectly round piece, so no need to fuss. Erway's sweet-and-sour tomato sauce will cover any of those broken pieces.
To learn more, read "Come Shell or High Water."
O Ah Jian (Taiwanese Oyster Omelet)
Recipe adapted from "The Food of Taiwan: Recipes from the Beautiful Island," by Cathy Erway
Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
For the Sweet-and-Sour Tomato Sauce:
¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1½ teaspoons cornstarch
½ cup cold water
Kosher salt, to taste
For the Oyster Omelet:
4 large eggs
Kosher salt and ground white pepper, to taste
⅓ cup cold water
1 tablespoon sweet potato starch
3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
6 to 8 small oysters, shucked
⅓ cup celery leaves
1 scallion, trimmed and sliced very thinly at an angle
1. Make the sweet-and-sour tomato sauce: In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the ketchup, vinegar, sugar and soy sauce. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves, 2 to 3 minutes.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water. Stir into the ketchup mixture and continue to simmer until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Season with salt. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Makes ¾ cup.
3. Make the oyster omelet: In a small bowl, whisk the eggs and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
4. In a small bowl, stir together the cold water and sweet potato starch. Set aside.
5. In a medium nonstick skillet over high heat, add 2 tablespoons of oil. When the oil is very hot and begins to shimmer, add the oysters to the pan. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the oysters start to firm up, 1 to 2 minutes. Pour the egg mixture over the oysters and cook until just until barely set on the bottom, 30 to 40 seconds. Pour the sweet potato slurry over the egg and, using a rubber spatula, scrape the egg mixture toward the center to form a round shape about 5 to 6 inches in diameter. Cook, loosening around the edges, until golden brown on the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes. Top the omelet with the celery leaves and place a large plate over the skillet and invert the omelet.
6. Heat the remaining oil in the pan and slide the omelet back into the pan, brown side up, and continue to cook until light golden brown on the bottom, 3 to 4 minutes.
7. Slide the omelet onto a serving dish. Drizzle it with the sweet-and-sour tomato sauce and garnish with the scallions. Serve.