On my first visit to Taiwan many years ago, we went to Shilin Night Market and I spent several minutes watching cooks make oyster omelette on a large skillet (similar to a teppanyaki). It was mesmerizing. I wanted to order one but the heat made me dizzy. In the end, all I could manage was a bowl of shaved ice.
During a more recent visit to Taiwan, we skipped the night markets and chose to spend an afternoon at Tamsui where I discovered oyster pancakes. They were lovely. But part of me was still craving oyster omelette. After travel ground to a halt in 2020, it just made more sense to make oyster omelette at home.
A few tips for home cooking this delicious dish.
Clean the shucked oysters by soaking them in water with a little starch. Don’t skip this part. Sometimes, shards of shell and bits of sand get embedded in the soft flesh and you want to remove all impurities.
In making the batter, use starch, never wheat flour. If you use wheat flour, you’ll get bready pancake. Generally, we use cornstarch and potato starch alternatively but, for oyster omelette, know that your choice of starch will affect the texture. Substituting tapioca starch yields a more chewy and slightly sticky omelette. The exact amount of water you need for the batter depends on the starch you’re using.
When you’ve mixed your starch with water and scallions, crack an egg directly over the mixture, add salt, pepper and five-spice powder and stir until combined.
Take your oysters, drain, rinse and drain again. You’re not only separating and removing impurities but also getting rid of excess starch.
Now, about frying the omelette. You need a good amount of cooking oil for a crispy crust. If the oil gets soaked up fast, drizzle in more. Lift the edges of the partially firm omelette and drizzle the oil.
Flipping the oyster omelette to brown both sides can get tricky especially if using tapioca starch. To make flipping easier and to minimize the chances of the omelette breaking apart, slide the omelette on a plate, cover with another plate, flip then slide back into the pan.
Taiwanese-style oyster omelette
Clean the oysters
- Rinse the oysters and drain.
- Place the oysters in a bowl, add three cups water and two tablespoons starch. Stir.
- Leave the oysters to soak for about five minutes to allow sandy residue to sink to the bottom of the bowl with the starch.
Make the batter
- Place the scallions and remaining starch in a bowl, and pour in one-half to three-fourths cup water to make a rather thin batter.
- Crack the egg directly into the bowl, add salt, pepper and five-spice powder and stir well.
- Drain the oysters, rinse to remove the starch then drain again.
- Stir the oysters into the batter.
Cook the oyster omelette
- Place a frying pan on the stove, set the stove on high then coat the bottom of a frying pan with oil to reach a depth of about one-eighth inch.
- When the oil is hot, spread the batter and allow the underside to cook until lightly browned and crispy in spots.
- Flip the oyster omelette to cook the other side until lightly browned and crisp in spots as well.
Serve your oyster omelette
- Slide the omelette onto a plate and serve.