夜香花樱花虾炒蛋 – Tonkin Jasmine & Sakura Ebi Omelette
Omelettes are a common dish on the dinner tables of many Chinese households. The versatility of the eggs, is like a clean canvas that provide us with endless possibilities for omelette dishes, each differing from the next. From Cantonese classics as elaborated as 桂花蛋 or 芙蓉蛋, to something as simple as a SPAM or an onion omelette, omelette dishes can also work to reflect the changing seasons, using ingredients that are only available during specific times of the year. To usher in the summer heat, 夜香花 Tonkin Jasmine bloom to exalt one and all in their perfumed blossoms and one can work it very nicely into an omelette as well ,together with sakura ebi, for a very refreshing 夜香花樱花虾炒蛋 – Tonkin Jasmine & Sakura Ebi Omelette.
A good omelette is all about timing and temperature control. For me, a precise omelette should have form and some bite yet retain the moisture and smooth textures from the remnant yolks which are custardy upon just set. Undercooked, and the omelette would appear too watery, like how an English omelette should be like. But this is a Cantonese omelette we are talking about here. But cook them for too long and the eggs age too much, harden and become rubbery and more chewy than what one would have hoped for. Some may like that texture in their omelettes, especially when the edges crisp up slightly. But that is not what a Cantonese omelette should be about.
夜香花 Tonkin Jasmine takes centrestage in this dish and admittedly, it is not the easiest ingredient to find at all. Firstly, it only blooms during the summer months and even so, only those earliest in bloom are suitable for this dish, still nourished by the remnant spring rains from time to time. As the heat of summer becomes more prominent, the leaves and then the flowers from this creeper which is endemic to the southeastern parts of China toughen slightly, adding more crunch perhaps, which make them suitable in say a fish soup, but probably not for an omelette.
Sakura Ebi is probably not a very Cantonese ingredient, favoured more by the Japanese and then the Taiwanese since the catch is found only off the coast of Taiwan and some parts of Japan. But these little shrimp add a warm hue of umami flavours and toasty aroma to the egg, noticeable but not overbearing if say, regular dried shrimp was used. This is an ingredient which I love to work with and I see why not it should work in an omelette, together with the Tonkin Jasmine blossoms.
夜香花樱花虾炒蛋 – Tonkin Jasmine & Sakura Ebi Omelette Recipe (serves 3-4)
3 large eggs
A small handful of Tonkin Jasmine blossoms, petals only. Remove stalks and receptacles, as well as unopened blossoms. The latter can be saved for fish soup.
2 generous tbsp sakura ebi
1-2 sprigs of spring onion, chopped finely
1/8 to 1/6 tsp salt, depending on how savory the sakura ebi are
1/2 tbsp sugar
A pinch of ground white pepper
2 tbsp peanut oil
In a small bowl, crack eggs and beat slightly to break the yolks.
Add chopped spring onion, salt, sugar and pepper. Mix throughly.
Add peanut oil into a heated wok and pan fry sakura ebi under medium low heat until slightly crisp and aromatic.
Drain sakura ebi onto a small plate but leave the oil in the wok.
Swirl the wok around to spread a thin layer of the shrimp infused oil over the wok surface.
Add beaten egg mixture into wok and swirl slightly to spread around.
Sprinkle half of the Tonkin Jasmine blossoms and half of the pan-fried sakura ebi over the surface of the cooking omelette evenly.
With a pair of wooden chopsticks, or spatula, work the egg mixture to break it up into streaks. This technique likens how 桂花蛋 is prepared.
Just before the egg sets, add remaining Tonkin Jasmine blossoms and mixture throughly around.
Plate the omelette and sprinkle remaining pan-fried sakura ebi over the top.
Serve immediately with other dishes and rice.