Taiwanese Oyster Omelet


I didn’t taste my first Taiwanese oyster omelet—a Taiwanese street food classic—in Taipei. Sadly, I’ve never been there. My first encounter with this extraordinary dish occurred in a frantic underground corridor in the New York subway system. Passing a small stall, I watched a chef toss oysters with eggs, add a sweet ketchup sauce, and flip it onto a paper plate. It seemed so incongruous in that setting that I simply had to try it.It was love at first bite. I was enchanted by the way the softness of the eggs danced up against the deliciously briny slipperiness of oysters. But what made the oyster omelet so special was the way the oysters and eggs were swept away by a mysterious and deliciously sticky substance. It was like a musical composition—each note different—and I found myself taking one bite and then another as I tried to tease out the flavors.I couldn’t stop thinking about that dish, and I found myself dredging up excuses to use that particular subway. But one day, as I sat in that frenzied airless space with busy commuters hurtling past me, it hit me that I’d much prefer eating in the quiet of my own kitchen.But what was the mystery substance? It turns out that the secret ingredient is sweet potato starch, one of the staples of the Taiwanese kitchen. It adds a wonderful textural note to the omelet, and I’ve loved playing around with it in this recipe. I also discovered that this wonderful combination of flavors tastes even better made with small, freshly shucked oysters.If you want to save a little time, instead of making your own, you can pick up some sweet chili sauce from your local Asian market; there are dozens of brands. My recipe is really easy and makes more than you need, but it keeps forever in the refrigerator.

Taiwanese Oyster Omelet
Photo: Antonis Achilleos
Active Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
25 mins



  • 1/4 cup ketchup

  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch

  • 1/2 cup cold water


  • 6 small raw oysters in shells

  • 2 teaspoons sweet potato starch

  • 1/4 cup water  

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 teaspoons grapeseed oil 

  • Handful of baby spinach leaves (about 1 cup)

  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup), plus more for garnish

  • 3 large eggs


  1. Make the sweet chili sauce: Stir together the ketchup, vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar in a small pot. Bring to a simmer over medium, stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves, about 1 minute. Whisk cornstarch into 1/2 cup cold water; add to the pot and bring to a boil, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.

  2. Make the oyster omelet: Shuck oysters, reserving any juice in shells. If the oysters are large, cut them in half. Whisk the sweet potato starch into 1/4 cup water in a medium bowl. Stir in salt, oysters, and any oyster juice.

  3. Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over high. Let it get quite hot, then add the oyster mixture. Reduce heat, and let mixture set into a thick, translucent pancake with a jelly-like consistency, about 4 minutes. Stir in spinach and scallions.

  4. Break eggs into a bowl, stir them with a fork, then add them to the skillet. Allow to just set, then flip the omelet as gently as you can (don’t worry if it breaks). Cook until bottom is just set but eggs are still a little runny, about 1 minute. Flip the omelet onto a plate, and serve with the sweet chili sauce. (It might not be pretty, but you’re going to top it with sweet chili sauce, so it doesn’t matter.)

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