In Cantonese, we call this dish shui dan, which translates to "water egg." That name aptly encapsulates this simple dish: Eggs are whisked with just the right amount of water so that, once steamed, it transforms into a custard that is light and silky, with only the gentlest jiggle. Growing up, we ate this dish with white rice, but nowadays, I often eat this for breakfast, without any accompaniments other than a few drops of chile oil, a shower of sesame seeds, and a swig or two of Maggi seasoning.
Recipe excerpted with permission from To Asia, With Love by Hetty McKinnon (Prestel Publishing 2021). —Hetty McKinnon
(125 milliliters) boiled water, cooled until it’s just warm (not hot) to the touch
Rice, for serving
Sliced scallions, fresh cilantro leaves, toasted sesame oil, or toasted white sesame seeds, for topping (optional)
Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl until the whites and yolks are completely blended. Place the bowl on a tea towel (to stop it from moving around) and slowly add the water in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Add the sea salt and whisk vigorously until the mixture is very well combined.
Place a steaming rack or trivet in a saucepan (make sure it will hold the bowl you will steam the custard in), then add water until it is just underneath the rack. Bring the water to the boil.
Pour the egg mixture through a sieve into a shallow heatproof bowl (the one I use is about 7 inches wide). Once the water has reached a rolling boil, place the bowl on the steaming rack or trivet. Cover with a lid, and immediately reduce the heat to the lowest temperature possible.
Allow to steam for about 10 minutes, then lift the lid to see if the egg has set in the middle. If not, cover again and steam for another minute or so until it is set with a slight wobble. When the egg is ready, turn off the heat and leave the egg to sit, covered, for 5 minutes before removing.
Serve warm just as is, or with your chosen toppings, but always with rice.