WASHINGTON, DC - Egg Foo Yung With Greens and Onion photographed in Washington, DC. (Photo by Deb Lindsey For The Washington Post via Getty Images).
Food - Drink
What Is Egg Foo Young And How Is It Related To Omelets?
Egg foo young may have Chinese influences, but it's really an all-American favorite born and bred in the US. Like many culinary mashup dishes, its origins are hard to trace.
Egg foo young borrows influence from Guangdong province in China. It has several progenitors from the mid-1800s, but only gained its modern name in the 20th century.
The dish reached America's heartland by 1920, and Chinese cuisine became a staple in suburbs by the 1950s. Egg foo young remains a simple dish described as a "Chinese omelet."
Egg foo young is still quite different from a Western-style omelet. One of the oldest recipes circa 1911 includes eggs, pork, potatoes, shredded onion, bamboo shoots, and celery.
The dish has evolved to include a variety of meat and vegetable combinations, including beef, chicken, or even shrimp, but eggs and a type of brown sauce are always included.
Egg foo young is often deep-fried in a wok for a crispy outside and fluffy pancake-like texture. The sauce typically uses cornstarch, sesame oil, and oyster and soy sauces.
Egg foo young meets the standards of the omelet, in that it's made with beaten eggs and includes fillings, but it likely wasn't influenced by the European-style omelet.
Western omelets originate from France, while egg foo young evolved from Chinese cuisine. This is a case where two dishes seem similar, but have no real historical relationship.