Meat-Filled Omelets

Danjiao

Preparation info

    Appears in

    Mrs. Chiang’s Szechwan Cookbook

    By Ellen Schrecker

    Published 1976

    • About

    Flavor: Mild and Gingery

    This is Mrs. Chiang’s most elegant dish, the one she makes when she wants to impress a special guest. It consists of tiny omelets, each one filled with a delicately flavored meat mixture, covered with a subtle, clear sauce, and accompanied by such exotic vegetables as tree ears and lily buds. The contrasting colors and textures of its ingredients, the care required in its preparation, and its mild, yet luscious, taste elevate it into the realm of Szechwanese haute cuisine. Although making the omelets and stuffing them adds a few extra steps to the preparation of the dish, there is nothing difficult about the procedure. The cries of pleasure that invariably greet a large platter of danjiao will more than reward your exertions.

    Method

    Preparation

    ½ cup dried tree ears

    ½ cup dried lily buds

    2 cups boiling water

    Put the dried tree ears and lily buds in a small bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Let soak for 20 minutes.
    4 scallions Clean the scallions, then chop them, both white part and green, into tiny pieces about the size of a match head.
    1-inch piece fresh ginger Peel the ginger, then chop it very fine until it reaches the consistency of coarse bread crumbs.

    ½ pound ground pork

    (ginger)

    (scallions)

    2 tablespoons soy sauce

    1 teaspoon sesame oil 1 egg white

    ½ teaspoon salt

    1 tablespoon cornstarch

    Put the ground pork in a bowl and add the ginger, three-fourths of the scallions, the soy sauce, sesame oil, egg white, salt, and cornstarch. Mix thoroughly until all the ingredients are well blended.

    1 small or ½ large cucumber

    ½ teaspoon salt

    Peel the cucumber, then slice it in half lengthwise. Scrape out all the seedy pulp in the middle. Cut the firm outer part of the cucumber into the thinnest possible slices. Put these slices in a bowl and sprinkle the salt over them. Mix thoroughly and let stand.

    3 eggs

    3 tablespoons all purpose flour

    Beat the eggs and flour together in a small bowl until you have a smooth batter.
    teaspoon peanut oil, approximately The next step is to make tiny omelets out of this batter. Heat a small, flat frying pan over a high flame. Add a tiny bit of oil and swirl it around until the bottom of the frying pan is covered with it.
    (egg batter)

    Pour a very scant tablespoonful of the egg batter into the frying pan, tilting the pan so that the batter covers a circle roughly 3 inches in diameter. Cook the egg until it has barely set and is still soft, but not runny, in the middle. Using a metal spatula, quickly remove it from the pan to a warm plate.

    Cook the rest of the egg batter in the same way. You should end up with about 2 dozen little omelets.

    Now you are ready to begin filling these omelets with the meat mixture.

    1 egg

    (meat mixture)

    (omelets)

    Beat the egg.

    Take about 1 teaspoonful of the meat mixture and place it in the middle of one of the little omelets. Moisten the edges of the omelet with the beaten egg, then fold the omelet over the filling and press the edges together. Don’t worry if the edges aren’t completely sealed; this isn’t the kind of filling that will ooze out of any little gaps.

    (tree ears and lily buds)

    Drain and rinse the tree ears and lily buds.

    While you are rinsing the tree ears, pick them over carefully to remove any impurities, like little pieces of wood, that might still be embedded in them.

    Tear each lily bud lengthwise with your fingers into 3 or 4 shreds.

    (cucumbers)

    1-½ tablespoons cornstarch

    3 tablespoons water

    Drain the cucumber slices.

    Mix the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl and set aside.

    Cooking

    1 tablespoon peanut oil Heat your wok or pan over a high flame for about 15 seconds, then add the oil. It will be ready to cook with when the first tiny bubbles form and a few small wisps of smoke appear.
    (cucumbers) When the oil is ready, add the cucumber slices and stir-fry them, using your cooking shovel or spoon to scoop the cucumbers off the sides of the pan and then stir them around in the middle. After you have cooked the cucumbers for 1 minute, remove them from the pan.

    2-½ tablespoons peanut oil

    (scallions)

    (tree ears and lily buds)

    ½ teaspoon salt

    Clean out the pan with a paper towel, then reheat it over a high flame. Pour the fresh oil in and wait until it is hot enough to cook with, then toss in the rest of the chopped scallions, the tree ears, lily buds, and salt. Stir-fry for about 30 seconds.

    1 cup water

    (filled omelets)

    Add the water and then, gently, put the filled omelets in the pan. Wait until the liquid is boiling, then cover the pan and let it cook over a moderate flame for 5 minutes.

    (cucumbers)

    teaspoon ground roasted Szechwan peppercorns

    (cornstarch and water)

    Return the partially cooked cucumbers to the pan, along with the ground roasted Szechwan peppercorns.

    Stir the cornstarch and water to make sure it is well combined, then pour the mixture into the pan, stirring gently all the while. When the sauce has thickened slightly and turned clear again, the dish will be ready to eat; this should take only 15 or 20 seconds.