Many years ago in a Chiu Chow restaurant in Hong Kong I tasted a wonderful oyster dish, which I asked my Hong Kong sister-in-law about recently. She said it was ho jai daan, or ‘oyster egg’, and made by blanching oysters, putting them in a shallow, greased pan over low heat, beating eggs, perhaps with a little ginger and wine, and pouring this over the oysters. When cooked on one side, the omelette is flipped over until just set.
Chiu Chow, or Chaozhou, has the Han river, or Han Jiang, running through it, and I have often wondered if this dish is the basis of Hangtown Fry. Made of eggs and oysters, this dish is said to have originated in Hangtown, California.
The easiest way to make Hangtown Fry is to lightly dust the raw oysters in seasoned flour; then fry in butter, and pour over the eggs beaten with a little chopped parsley, chervil or chives, and a tablespoon of melted butter. Cook very lightly indeed, and serve with hot buttered toast. Thinly sliced, crisply fried streaky bacon sometimes accompanies the dish.
© 2000 Frances Bissell. All rights reserved.