Hong Kong-Style Scrambled Eggs Are Perfect For Beef Lovers

Diner lovers know that eggs and corned beef are no strangers at this point. For decades, American diners have used these two ingredients to complement each other, a classic example being corned beef hash paired with a side of fried or perfect scrambled eggs. But it was diners in Hong Kong who popularized combining eggs and corned beef, resulting in the classic Hong Kong-style scrambled egg sandwich that beef lovers will not get enough of.

The essential Hong Kong scrambled eggs mix combines thoroughly beaten eggs, a potato starch slurry, and corned beef. Most recipes season this mix with salt, white pepper, and neutral oil, but some suggest adding in evaporated milk, MSG, or chicken bouillon to enhance the flavor. The eggs are then quickly cooked in a skillet and placed between two slices of milked bread. The slices are toasted with butter on one side prior to assembly, and most recipes call for the crust to be removed and for the fluffy white side of the bread to face outward.

Incorporate a slurry into the scrambled eggs to get that signature creamy texture

Unlike most Western recipes, East Asian cuisine — and in particular Chinese and Hong Kong recipes — commonly combines corn or potato starch slurries into egg recipes. By acting as a binding agent, the slurry prevents water molecules in the egg from evaporating. The starch also prevents an egg's protein molecules from unbinding and joining together, resulting in a less spongy mixture that can withstand higher levels of heat. This helps retain that creamy texture in the final product.

Most Hong Kong-style scrambled egg recipes recommend using potato starch in the slurry for a reason. Potato starch mixes much more easily with water than cornstarch, making it much easier to incorporate into a slurry. It also activates at lower heat levels than cornstarch, which makes it ideal for a scrambled egg's quick cooking time. While not as efficient, however, cornstarch can also serve as a substitute to make creamy Hong Kong-style scrambled eggs.

Hong Kong's scrambled eggs reflect its history under British colonialism

The Hong Kong diner, or cha chaan teng, as well as its twists on Western dishes — such as the corned beef scrambled eggs — likely arose in the 20th century. At the time, the British Empire colonized much of the region, bringing in a variety of European — and, eventually, American — trends in the process. Cuisine made a large part of this cultural exchange, and after an influx of Chinese immigrants in the region following the communist revolution in mainland China, as well as a boom in the local economy, Hong Kong cooks began to fuse the fads of Western diners with regional dishes and cooking techniques.

Dishes got creative, prompting the invention of menu items like milk tea and Hong Kong-styled spaghetti. But more importantly, cha chaan teng establishments remained affordable to most Hong Kong residents — a stark difference from the past, since the British priced out most of the European dining establishments except for the very rich. To this day, most of Hong Kong's diners remain affordable and still feature scrambled egg sandwiches that incorporate corned beef and other Western products as their star dishes. Fluffy, creamy, and with a nice savory bite from crispy fried corned beef — this sandwich is something all meat and breakfast lovers alike should try.