The story of this sandwich goes something like this: Chinese immigrants build railroads across the continent. Egg foo yung—which is not quite a Chinese dish but has become this iconically Chinese dish to Americans—travels with them as they settle. Somebody in St. Louis, Missouri, liberates an egg foo yung pancake from the brown sauce hell it was doomed to (EFY traditionally being these little egg pancakes ensconced in cornstarchy brown sauce like saber-toothed tigers in a tar pit) and sticks it in the sort of sandwich setup more often reserved for fried chicken cutlets or sliced ham. The results are inarguably good, and somehow get attributed to someone from St. Paul, Minnesota, where the sandwich is entirely foreign. Weird story, good sandwich!
Egg Foo Yung
- 3 T neutral oil
- 1 C bean sprouts
- 1/2 C thinly sliced scallions
- 2 T minced serrano or green bell pepper
- 1 t soy sauce
- + kosher salt
- + white pepper
- 1/4 C diced cooked ham, chicken, or beef (optional
- 2 large eggs
- 1 T cornstarch
- 4 slices white sandwich bread, lightly toasted
- 2 T mayonnaise
- 5-6 iceberg lettuce leaves
- 1 tomato, sliced
- 8 dill pickle chips
Make the egg foo yung: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the bean sprouts, scallions, and serrano, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are sizzling and slightly wilted, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and let cool slightly. Season the mixture with the soy sauce and a few pinches of salt and white pepper. Stir in the meat (if using).
Crack the eggs into a bowl, then add the cornstarch and beat with a fork to combine. Pour over the vegetable mixture and stir until everything is coated with egg.
Reheat the skillet over medium-low heat and slick with 1 tablespoon oil. Scoop half of the egg batter into the pan and use a spatula to coax it into a tight 4-inch-wide fritter/pancake/patty. Cook until the edges are brown and set, then flip, and continue cooking until the patty is slightly puffed and cooked through, about 6 minutes total. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat to make 2 pancakes. Keep warm.
Assemble the sandwiches: Spread the toasted bread with mayonnaise and top with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and an egg foo yung pancake.