Chinese steamed eggs, a perfectionist’s guide (蒸蛋羹)

Smooth, slippery and heavenly soft, Chinese steamed eggs requires minimum ingredients yet delivers a delicate look and flavour. Learn how to make it flawlessly.

Chinese steam eggs is silky smooth and heavenly soft.

I’m very lucky to have had a childhood full of sweet memories and many of them are food related. My family didn’t have any sophisticated ingredients but every single dish my mum & dad prepared was so satisfying and delicious. Today, I’m sharing a super simple dish that always reminds me of my dear mum (now it has become my own children’s favourite dish): Chinese steamed eggs (蒸蛋羹), also know as water egg or egg custard.

It couldn’t be simpler to make Chinese steamed eggs: beat the eggs, add water then steam. Voilà, all done! However, it does require a bit of attention to detail to achieve the perfect texture: smooth, slippery and heavenly soft. I consider myself a perfectionist especially when it comes to cooking, so I’d love to share my tricks on how to produce a bowl of flawless Chinese steamed eggs.

A spoonful of Chinese steamed eggs. It melts in your mouth.

The right egg water ratio

Too much egg will result in a hard curd, whereas too much water will make it impossible to turn the mixture into a solid form. The ideal egg water ratio should be around 1:2 in volume. For example, I normally use medium-sized egg which measures about 50ml each. So I add 100ml of water. If you wish, replace water with chicken stock for a fuller taste.

The right water temperature

Warm water works best for this recipe. The right temperature helps the beaten egg and the water to combine. I would suggest around 45°C (113°F). But don’t rush to buy a thermometer! I have a simple trick: boil some water, then pour it into the same amount of cold tap water.

You only need soy sauce and sesame oil to season Chinese steamed eggs.

Getting rid of lumps and bubbles

In order to make the steamed egg super smooth, you need to remove any lumps and bubbles in the egg water mixture prior to steaming. if possible, use a sieve to filter when pouring the mixture into steaming bowl(s).

Avoid dripping water from the lid

When it comes to steaming, I’ve got two options for you: 1. Use a regular steamer if you have one; 2. Use an ordinary pot which is wide enough to place your bowl(s). Sit the bowls directly in the boiling water. Make sure the water level is right: low enough not to splash into the egg bowl and high enough to complete 10 minutes steaming without drying out the pot.

To create a super smooth surface, you need to cover the bowl prior to steaming the egg water mixture.

Unless using a traditional bamboo steamer which allows the steam to escape from the lid, I suggest you cover the bowls with cling film (pierce a couple of times). This is to prevent the condensation on the lid from dropping onto the smooth surface of the egg curd. See the image above: the bowl on the left wasn’t covered by cling film thus has an uneven surface.

Seasoning: less is more

Chinese steamed eggs doesn’t need sophisticated seasoning to impress your palate. Exactly like how my mum serves this dish, I only add a little light soy sauce and sesame oil, then cut through the curd several times to let the sauce penetrate. Simply delicious!

To make basic steamed eggs more visually appetizing, you can garnish it with prawns and vegetables like asparagus, carrot, etc.

Sometimes, I garnish the steamed eggs with prawns and vegetables like asparagus, carrot, etc. In this case, you need to steam the eggs as usual for 7 minutes, then place in the garnish and steam for a further 3 minutes.

Chinese steamed eggs, a perfectionist’s guide (蒸蛋羹)
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Prep Time: 3 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 13 minutes

Yield: 2 servings

Chinese steamed eggs, a perfectionist’s guide (蒸蛋羹)

Smooth, slippery and heavenly soft, Chinese steamed eggs requires minimum ingredients yet delivers a delicate look and flavour. Learn how to make it flawlessly.


    Basic version
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • Warm water, double volume of the beaten eggs (see note 1 & 2)
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon chive, finely chopped (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons light soy sauce
  • 2 drops toasted sesame oil
    Optional (for garnish)
  • Prawns, peeled and deveined
  • Asparagus & carrot


  1. Pour warm water into beaten eggs. Add salt then stir well.
  2. Through a sieve, pour the mixture into 2 small serving bowls. Sprinkle chive over if using.
  3. Cover the bowls with cling film. Pierce to allow the steam to escape (see note 3).
  4. Steam for 10 minutes over a gentle heat (place the bowls in when the water starts to boil).
  5. Season with light soy sauce and sesame oil (if you wish, cut through the curd several times to let the sauce penetrate). Serve warm.
  6. Optional: If you would like to garnish it with optional ingredients, steam the egg as usual for 7 minutes, then place in prawns and vegetable. Steam for a further 3 minutes.


1. The egg water ratio should be around 1:2 in volume. For example, 2 beaten eggs (medium-sized) measures around 100ml, so you’ll need 200ml of water.

2. Ideally, the water should be at around 45°C (113°F). You can achieve this by mixing equal parts of boiling water and cold tap water.

3. When using a traditional bamboo steamer, you can skip the cling film.

Hope you find this “perfectionist’s guide” useful. Check out other scrumptious recipes using eggs as the main ingredient: Marbled tea eggs, Egg fried rice noodles, Tomato & egg stir fry.

Happy cooking!

An enthusiastic cook with a Chinese palate and a global mindset.

More “simple yet delicious” dishes: 

Spicy Chinese potato rösti (干煸洋芋丝)

Xinjiang tiger salad (老虎菜)



11 thoughts

  1. Tonight I made my first Chinese Steamed Egg. It turned out beautiful and delicious. The roasted sesame oil with the soy and fresh chives from my brother’s garden made it awesome. Wish I knew how to attach my pictures.

    1. Hi Leona! So happy that my recipe worked well for you. I would love to see the picture of your steamed egg. Unfortunately, photos can not be attached to comments on the blog. If you are using Instagram, you can tag me with your photo. Anyway, enjoy your time in the kitchen!

  2. Thank you for this recipe! It’s delicious and makes me nostalgic. I tried it twice and second time was much better (the top looks smooth). However, the inside of mine are still airy with holes. What am I doing wrong? Am i whisking too much air into it? I will experiment with mixing the egg with chopsticks next time.

    1. You are welcome Jen. Glad that you enjoyed the dish. I would suggest: 1. do not over beat the egg. 2. Try to filter twice the egg mixture through a sieve. That will help to remove the bubbles. 3. Maybe the heat is a little too high? Wish you good luck in achieving a perfect texture next time!

  3. Thank you for the recipe. I actually made this in my rice cooker! It took a little longer then anticipated but everyone loved it. It also was a little bit more watery but was had very good flavor with the sesame oil and soy sauce! It wasn’t quite as pretty as yours! Hope to bump into more of your recipes.

  4. That was really helpful. I ate this two weeks ago in China and I’ve been trying to figure out what it is called. Now I know Zheng dangeng. The version I had was steamed with mussels.

      1. Yes, it’s a wonderful dish. I’m surprised that I didn’t come across it earlier. Is it more common to find 蒸蛋羹 around the Yangtze than in Beijing or Canton?

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