A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from December 25, 2008
Egg Foo Young (Egg Foo Yung; Egg Fu Young; Egg Fu Yung)

"Egg foo young” (also “egg foo yung,” “egg fu young,” “egg fu yung” and many other spellings) is a Chinese omelette dish that has been served in New York’s Chinatown since at least the early 1900s. Ham and shrimp ("shrimp foo young") and even lobster ("lobster foo young") are often added to the dish

“Foo Yung Ap” (with duck) was cited in the San Francisco Call in 1874, from a dinner in San Francisco’s Chinatown.


Wikipedia: Egg foo young
Egg foo young (Chinese: 芙蓉蛋, also spelled egg fooyung, egg foo yong, egg fu yung, or egg furong) is an omelette dish found in American Chinese cuisine. The name comes from the Cantonese language, and may be related to the Fu Yong flower, Hibiscus mutabilis. The dish is associated with Tiki culture, and American Chinese restaurants today often list it as “Polynesian” in their menus.

Preparation
This dish is prepared with beaten eggs and minced ham. From these dishes, creative Chinese chefs in the United States at least as early as the 1930s created a pancake filled with eggs, vegetables, and meat or seafood.

The dish usually appears as a well-folded omelette with the non-egg ingredients embedded in the egg mixture, covered with or served in sauce or gravy. It is readily prepared for take-out and packed in a container.

It may be made with various vegetables such as bean sprouts, celery and water chestnuts. When meat is used as an ingredient, a choice of roast pork, shrimp, chicken, beef or lobster may be offered.

Regional modifications
In a regional variation, many American-Chinese restaurants in St. Louis, Missouri, serve what is called a St. Paul sandwich, which is an egg foo young patty served with mayonnaise, dill pickle and sometimes lettuce and tomato between two slices of white bread.

About.com: Chinese Food
Egg Foo Yung - The Chinese Omelet
Elegant Egg Foo Yung is Perfect for Breakfast or a Main Meal

By Rhonda Parkinson, About.com

A Bit of Omelet History
Although the French coined the term omelette in the sixteenth century, various incarnations of egg “pancakes” filled with meat or vegetables and seasonings have existed since ancient times. Furthermore, the dish ancient Persians feasted upon probably bore more resemblance to Egg Foo Yung (and Italian frittatas for that matter) than the classic French omelette, with its moist interior and modest amount of filling. Ancient Persian omelets were probably similar to modern-day Kookoo, made by mixing up “a generous amount of chopped herbs into beaten eggs, frying it in a round pan until it is firm and then (usually) cutting it into wedges for serving” (Source: The Oxford Companion to Food by Alan Davidson, 1999, p. 553).

Egg Foo Yung Origins
Contrary to popular belief, Egg Foo Yung is based on an authentic Chinese dish. Fu Yung Egg Slices is an elaborate Shanghai recipe made with beaten egg whites and minced ham, possibly named for the lotus flower. A northern Chinese version replaces the ham with minced chicken breast. From these dishes came the Egg Foo Yung many of us remember enjoying in Chinese-American restaurants throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s - a deep-fried pancake filled with eggs, vegetables and meat or seafood. Today, homemade Egg Foo Yung is normally pan-fried instead.

(Oxford English Dictionary)
fu yung
[a. Chinese (Cantonese) fúyúng, lit. ‘lotus’.]
A Chinese sauce made with eggs mixed and cooked with a variety of other ingredients. Usu. in the name of the dish with which the sauce is served, as egg fu yung, etc.
1917 V. GALSTER Chinese Cook Bk. 5 (heading) Eggs fo yung with shrimp, lobster or chicken.
1928 Mandarin Chop Suey Cook Bk. 6 With the aid of the Mandarin Chop Suey Cook Book, however, Chop Suey, Chow Mein, Egg Foo Young..now can..be prepared in every American household.
1934 G. ROSS Tips on Tables 119 The varieties of chow mein and the egg Foo Yung are well-prepared.
1935 M. MORPHY Recipes of All Nations 722 Foo Yong Hy (crab omelet).
1948 R. W. DANA Where to eat in N.Y. 66 The theater and night-club performers drop in late for chicken egg foo yong.
1952 D. Y. H. FENG Joy of Chinese Cooking iv. 90 Foo Yoong DaahnRich Egg Omelet.
1956 B. Y. CHAO How to cook & eat in Chinese II. xiii. 160 (heading) Egg fu-yung (with meat shreds).
1965 P. ROBINSON Pakistani Agent viii. 113 I’ll have a prawn fooyong and chicken chow mein.
1972 K. LO Chinese Food I. 30 One of the favourite Chinese white sauces for vegetables is the fu-yung sauce, which is made from minced chicken mixed
with broth, egg white, cornflour, and some milk or cream. Ibid. 44 Classically, the term fu-yung should only apply to egg white and cornflour mixed with minced chicken (a completely white mixture). 1974 N.Y. Times 4 Oct. 34 With a gusto once reserved for chow mein and egg foo yong New Yorkers are now dipping their chopsticks into another Oriental taste treat.

7 July 1874, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, “A Chinese Dinner,” pg. 3:
Foo Yung Ap succeeded—a dish consisting of pieces of duck fried in batter and stewed with mushrooms, green onions and peas in the pod. (...)—San Francisco Call, June 27.

Google Books
New York’s Chinatown
by Louis J. Beck
New York, NY: Bohemia Publishing Company
1898
Pg. 50:
Fifty Cents a Dish:—
Chow Mean—(Fried Noodles).
Chow Fune—(Fried Rice and Noodles).
Foo Yong Dan—(Ham and Egg Omelet).

19 September 1903, Alton (IL) Evening Telegraph, “Chop Suey Fad Grows,” pg. 2, col. 7:
Foo Young dove and rice...30c

17 February 1908, Oil City (PA) Derrick, pg. 4, col. 6 ad:
FOO YUNG DAN...35c
Chinese omelette with ham and herbs.
(Canton Chinese Restaurant—ed.)

29 January 1911, Macon (GA) Weekly Telegraph, “Chinese New Year Is being Celebratede,” pg. 7:
The big even in New York’s CHinatown tonight was the first of a series of six New Year’s banquests to be given by the members of the International Society of the Orient and Occident.
(..)
Gair Tom, Foo Young Ta, Gai Tehow Mane, Chi Chee Yee, Woo Long Cha, Ton Boang and Gam Got Gee Koo.

Feeding America
Chinese-Japanese Cook Book
By Sara Bosse And Onoto Watanna [pseud.]
Chicago, IL: Rand McNally
1914
Pg. 54:
FOO YUNG DAN
(Chinese Omelette with Herbs)
Four eggs; one half a minced onion; four sticks of celery; four ounces of pork; one dessert-spoonful of syou; one half teaspoonful of salt.

Beat four eggs well; have ready half a minced onion and four sticks of celery, chopped very fine. Put in the frying pan four ounces of pork, (Pg. 55 --ed.) chopped fine, and fry until brown. Now add the herbs, with a dessert-spoonful of syou, and finally the beaten eggs. Let the whole cook for five minutes, without touching, but be careful to keep it from burning. Fold one half over the other, and slip on the platter. Serve at once, with rice. 

10 December 1915, Racine (WI) Journal-News, pg. 18, col. 4:
At 5 o’clock a five-course dinner was served, the menu consisting of roast turkey, imported Chinese Egg Fu Yung, olives, hearts of celery, potatoes, etc. 

Google Books
The Job
An American novel
By Sinclair Lewis
New York, NY: Harper & Brothers Publishers
1917
Pg. 161:
Sometimes Bessie tempted her to a Chinese restaurant, where Bessie, who came from the East Side and knew a trick or two, did not order chop-suey, like a tourist, but noodles and eggs foo-young.

15 February 1919, Bridgeport (CT) Standard Telegram, pg. 24, col. 5 ad:
ORIENTAL DISHES—Shrimp Egg Foo Young Don: (Eggs, Shrimps, Chinese Ham, Bamboo SHoots and Chinese Vegetables.)
(Oriental Restaurant—ed.)

17 May 1922, Bismarck (ND) Tribune, pg. 5, col. 6:
Dance and Dine after “Irene” tonight, service a la carte. Special Chinese dishes. CHicken Chow Mein, Chinese Chop Suey, Eggs Foo Young, Shrimp Foo Young, Kumquats.
(A similar ad in column 7 has “Egg Foo Young—ed.)

1 December 1922, Miami (FL) Herald Record, pg. 2 ad:
Lobster Foo Young
(Leamington Grill at Leamington Hotel—ed.)

2 December 1922, Miami (FL) Herald Record, pg. 2 ad:
Egg Foo Young
(Leamington Grill at Leamington Hotel—ed.)

16 November 1923, Nebraska State Journal (Lincoln, NE), pg. 4, col. 7:
Q. Please give recipe for the Chinese dish, Foo Yung.  H. W.
A. Beat four eggs well; have ready half a minced onion and four sticks of celery, chopped fine. Put in the frying pan four ounces of pork, chopped fine, and fry until brown. Now add the herbs with a dessert-spoonful of syau (?—ed.), and finally the beaten eggs. Let cook for five minutes, without touching, but be careful to keep from burning. Fold one-half over the other, and slip on the platter. Serve at once with rice.

New Salads, Bridge Luncheons, Canned Meals
By the Chicago Daily News
Chicago, IL: Chicago Daily News
1933
Pg. 298:
EGG FOO YONG
Ten eggs, one cup shredded onion, two cups sprouts, one cup finely cutvroasted or boiled cold meat of any kind, or shrimp, lobster, crabmeat or tuna fish; drain all juice off the sprouts, mix thoroughly with meat and onion, beat the eggs slightly and add to the mixture. Divide into equal parts by using a soup ladle of three-quarters cup capacity, pour gradually into a frying pan containing one-half inch of very hot fat. When one side is browned turn over and brown the other. For gravy thicken the quantity needed of good soup stock with cornstarch and brown with brown or soy sauce. Add salt and pepper to suit your taste. Serve hot over egg foo yong.

Tips on Tables:
Being a guide to dining and wining in New York at 365 restaurants suitable to every mood and every purse

by George Ross
New York, NY: Covici Friede Publishers
1934
Pg. 119:
CHINA GARDEN 75 Second Avenue (4th and 5th Streets)
But the varieties of chow mein and the egg Foo Yung are well-prepared, and the prices are more than moderate. 

Official Chinatown Guide Book
New York, NY: Henin & Company
1939
Pg. 19:
Favorite Original Chinatown Dishes
(Cantonese Pronunciation)
Char Shu (Barbecued Pork)
Chun Kin (Egg rolls)
For Opp (Roast Duck)
Bark Toy Guy Pan—Sliced Chicken with Chinese Greens
Boo Loo Guy Pan—Sliced chicken with pineapple
Moo Goo Gai Pan—Sliced chicken with mushrooms
Fried Lobster (Meat sauce with egg)
Shrimp Foo Yong (Canton Style)
Yang Chow Wor Mein (soft noodles)
Hong-cheu-yu—Fried whole sea bass with shredded meat, bamboo shoots, vegetables
Tim-shum yu—Sweet and Pungent Sea Bass
Moo-goo-guy-chow-mein—Chicken Chow Mein with Mushroom
Jeen-yang-don—Egg Foo Yong, scrambled (Cantonese style)
Fu-yang-ha-kow—Shrimps with Lobster Sauce

Chinatown and Her Mother Country
George L. Hsiong, chief editor
New York, NY: New China Co.
May 1939
Pg. 88:
Fu Yang Ha—Fresh shrimp omelette with bamboo shoots, water chestnuts.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • (0) Comments • Thursday, December 25, 2008 • Permalink