Some say that the egg foo young gravy is really what makes the dish. Serving egg foo young without gravy is like serving mashed potatoes without gravy. You could…but why?
Whether you’re making Chicken Egg Foo Young or any other egg foo young recipe, you need that gravy to pour over the fried patties and a little—or a lot!—over your rice. We always make a little extra, and once you taste the combination of this silky gravy and steamed white rice (or fried rice!), you’ll understand why.
Using Cornstarch or Flour to Thicken Gravy
Here, we use a combination of flour and cornstarch, which results in a well-rounded gravy for egg foo young.
But what is the difference between using cornstarch or all purpose flour to make gravy? Each has advantages and disadvantages.
In Chinese cooking, cornstarch (or other starches like tapioca starch and potato starch) is used to thicken sauces. However, you may have found that cornstarch-thickened sauces tend to thin out after refrigerating and reheating. You may be familiar with this phenomenon, if you’ve had a Chinese takeout hot and sour soup or egg drop soup that seems thinner after a night in the refrigerator.
Adding flour directly into gravy can result in lumps or a raw flour taste, so it needs to be cooked first in oil, butter, or animal fat—in other words, you make a roux. Flour tends to retain its thickening power in gravies, which is why it’s a key ingredient in most Western gravy recipes (e.g., our turkey gravy recipe).
Why use both? We want the smoothness and silkiness that cornstarch offers, as well as the robustness that flour offers.
How to Make Gluten-Free Gravy
If you or a friend/family member is on a gluten-free diet, skip the roux all together, and thicken only with cornstarch.
You should also use a gluten-free oyster sauce (look for Lee Kum Kee’s green panda label), gluten-free soy sauce instead of regular light soy sauce, and our gluten-free dark soy sauce substitute (molasses plus gluten-free soy sauce).
Bear in mind that once the gravy gets cold (say, overnight), a purely cornstarch-based gravy will lose its thick quality, so make a gluten-free egg foo young gravy right before serving, rather than in advance.
Alternatives to Chicken Stock
Using chicken stock definitely makes your gravy more flavorful. We call for low-sodium chicken stock, so it doesn’t throw off salt levels.
To make a vegetarian gravy, you can substitute mushroom stock or vegetable stock. You can also use water if you don’t have stock, but you’ll need to add more seasoning to make up for the difference. Using chicken bouillon cubes, chicken powder, mushroom powder, or MSG will enhance your gravy if you have to use water.
One of the best tips I can offer is to taste your gravy as you go. Keep in mind that you can always add salt, but you can’t remove it!
If you do end up with an oversalted gravy, add more water until you achieve the right salt level. You’ll also need more cornstarch slurry to re-thicken it. Also remember to taste before and after adding cornstarch, since the flavor will be concentrated after thickening.
Can I Freeze Egg Foo Young Gravy?
Yes, you can freeze your gravy for another day! We suggest freezing gravy in portions, so it’s easy to reheat the right portion when you need it. Add cornstarch slurry if the gravy is too thin, or water if the gravy is too thick. Taste and reseason if needed.
How to Reheat Egg Foo Young Gravy
Gravy gets thick when it cools, and a “skin” can form on top. In restaurants, egg foo young gravy usually sits on the steam table to stay warm. We would fry the egg foo young patties and the servers would ladle the gravy on top just before serving.
Some restaurants add oil to the top of the gravy so a skin doesn’t form, and I remember at our family Chinese restaurant, my father always reminded the servers to stir the gravy and scoop from the bottom to avoid this excess oil.
At home, you can just reheat the gravy and use a whisk to break up the “skin” or any clumps that may have formed after cooling. Just time it right so you can serve everything piping hot!
How to Make Egg Foo Young Gravy
Start by gathering your ingredients!
In a wok, medium pot, or saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Whisking constantly, make a roux by adding the flour, turmeric, and paprika.
Continue whisking for 15-20 seconds, then add the garlic and shallot.
Whisk for another 30 seconds. Next, whisk in 3 cups of the chicken stock.
Bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the oyster sauce, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, and white pepper to taste. I like peppery gravy!
Combine the cornstarch with the remaining ¼ cup of chicken stock (or use water) to make a slurry. Slowly stir in two-thirds of the mixture.
Let the gravy cook and continue to thicken for 30 seconds. Add more of the cornstarch slurry if needed. The gravy should be thick enough to coat a spoon. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed.
Serve with your favorite egg foo young! We have a great recipe for Chicken Egg Foo Young and a recipe for Shrimp Egg Foo Young so be sure to check those out too!
Egg Foo Young Gravy
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil (such as vegetable or peanut oil)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 small clove garlic (minced)
- 1 teaspoon shallot (or red onion, minced)
- 3 1/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock (divided)
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce
- 2 teaspoon light soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/4 teaspoon white pepper (or to taste)
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- In a wok, medium pot, or saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Whisking constantly, make a roux by adding the flour, turmeric, and paprika. Continue whisking for 15-20 seconds, then add the garlic and shallot.
- Whisk for another 30 seconds. Next, whisk in 3 cups of the chicken stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Add the oyster sauce, light soy sauce, dark soy sauce, sesame oil, and white pepper to taste.
- Combine the cornstarch with the remaining ¼ cup of chicken stock (or use water) to make a slurry. Slowly stir in two-thirds of the mixture.
- Let the gravy cook and continue to thicken for 30 seconds. Add more of the cornstarch slurry if needed. The gravy should be thick enough to coat a spoon. Taste and adjust seasoning with additional salt or soy sauce according to your preferences. Serve!