Flipping Out: An Irreverent Photo Essay on Making the Taiwanese Oyster Omelette

Ah, “Oh-ah-jen” (蚵仔煎). Oyster omelette. Taiwan night market staple. Street food favorite—and rare find in the United States. McD’s does not exactly have an Oyster McOmelette on the drive-thru menu.

So, last Saturday, several of us made the pilgrimage out to Union Church in Astoria, Queens to take part in TAP-NY‘s “Cooking Series” (aka Cooking 101 with a Taiwanese “Ah Ma”).

Mrs. Lin, our oyster omelette Yoda, introduced us to the main ingredients of sweet potato starch, eggs, oysters and greens (in this case, spinach).

The sweet potato starch is what apparently gives the oyster omelette its “QQ” texture—that Holy Grail of “just right” chewiness that Taiwanese people revere and find supremely delicious. You can call “QQ” the Taiwanese version of “al dente.”

While we cracked eggs (woops, got a little shell in there), we debated whether we were cooking something closer to an “omelette”—or a “pancake.” Omelette won. HIGH FIVE. We totally had this.

… until Mrs. Lin lured us into the kitchen to start cooking the omelette. Suddenly, it was like none of us had ever seen a stove before.

For she revealed the key move to creating a superior Taiwanese oyster omelette: the omelette flip.

In this maneuver, the omelette flies off the pan, somersaults and lands back into the pan … or onto the floor. Along with your unshed tears.

It is the difference between fist-pumping glory and starvation; Instagram ready and “requiring numerous filters (and maybe a vintage background);” #omeletflip and #omeletfail. The chasm is vast.

Mrs. Lin’s “omelette flip” was like an Olympic gymnast tumbling with balletic skill and grace. I tried to “fold” my omelette in half with a spatula when I thought she wasn’t looking.

Thankfully, hunger makes you do crazy things, so we all managed to channel our inner Top Chefs and flip some decent omelettes. No omelette casualties were reported, and no one left #coveredineggandregret.

Even better, the joy and camaraderie of omelette-making prompted deep philosophical discussions … on the correct ratio of sweet potato to egg (“just eyeball it”) and the manifestation of “omelette” as a four syllable-word in Asian languages (“oh-mu-lett-uh”).

But no matter how you say it—Behold! The Taiwanese oyster omelette! #omeletteNOM

#NOMNOMNOM … and that’s really all anyone could say after that. The day ended in a blur of omelette sauce and empty plates.

Everyone had a downright good flipping time. So thank you, Mrs. Lin & Union Church, thank you, TAP-NY! (Sign up for their newsletter and check out their website for other activities) .

P.S. Afterwards, a few of us bought delicious “ba-tsang”/zong zi (Taiwanese tamale) handmade by “that woman in Queens.” What is amazing is that we had all heard of “that woman in Queens;” I don’t know her name, but she is great. Oh, Asian community, where word-of-mouth is still the best Yelp.

For “moar” on Taiwanese oyster omelette recipes, visit here.

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