I'm looking for a time-proven method for getting perfect egg ribbons in egg drop or hot and sour soup. The result I'm looking for is a clear soup with the classic gossamer egg ribbons. I'm not really asking for soup recipes(although feel free to share along with your answer!). I'm asking for specifically how to add the eggs.

I've read plenty of "beat eggs, pour into soup", and I haven't quite been able to nail the technique. I end up with some ribbons, but a cloudy soup.

This question is meant to delve into specifics. I'd like to know explicit details of your ancient, family secret. How far to beat the eggs...light, or foamy? Drizzle in slowly, or fast? Drizzle the eggs into the soup using chopsticks...fork...whisk? Stir the soup while adding or not? Before or after adding cornstarch thickener...or do you use a different thickener(perhaps another previous egg addition?) Please provide as much detail on technique, tools, and process as possible. I don't mind spending some time practicing a new technique, as long as I end up with a good product and am able to repeat it.


  • Just a note, the soup taste just as good no matter if your ribbons are perfect or not – Huangism Jan 19 '15 at 20:20

I can't speak to your specific recipe, but I worked in a Chinese take-out restaurant for a few years, but that was a ways back....if I remember correctly, the process was extremely simple.

  1. Start with a broth of hot water, white vinegar, salt and a drop or two of yellow food coloring (ancient Chinese secret - food coloring)
  2. Get it nice and hot and add a small amount of cornstarch slurry, whisk and wait for it to thicken.
  3. Meanwhile, scramble some eggs, just like normal. Nothing special. We used a fork and scrambled the eggs in a take-out soup container.
  4. Pour the eggs into the broth at a steady rate while stirring the broth at a medium and consistent speed (roughly one rev/sec).

And that was it. As far as specific technique? I can't recall anything that really stands out. Like I mentioned, we used a take-out soup container and a fork to scramble the eggs, and cut a hole in the top to pour them. I suppose if you want to get really specific, we used a box cutter to make a triangular hole, roughly 3/4 inch per side. The soup was cooked in a round-bottomed wok, and stirred with what Google is telling me is called a hand-spoon - imagine a one-cup ladle, except bend the cup so it's more or less parallel to the handle.

Hope this helps. If you'd like any more information I'll try and see what I can drag out of the back of my dusty memory - it was about six-seven years ago, but I might be able to persuade my feeble old mind to provide some more details.

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  • thanks for the quick answer and depth of detail! quick followup-how fast do you think you poured the eggs? is the idea to have as thin a "stream" as possible when entering the soup(i.e. pour really really slowly), or am I off on that concept? Did the size of the hole help determine the rate of your pour or was that just to contain the mess? Plan on trying this soon. – barneco Dec 17 '12 at 14:30
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    The hole helped with the mess and the rate. I would guess that it was slightly less than an egg/sec. When we made a batch, it was probably 10 eggs added over 7 or 8 seconds. – MikeTheLiar Dec 17 '12 at 14:41
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    I suspect the vinegar in the broth may have helped--that is the same trick used with poached eggs to help them hold their shape. – SAJ14SAJ Dec 17 '12 at 15:20
  • Corn starch is the actual "ancient Chinese secret" here. It does interesting things when used with the techniques of Chinese cuisine. (See also "velveting".) @barneco – jscs Dec 17 '12 at 20:05
  • Only crappy chinese restaurant use food colouring and no it's the chinese ancient secret – Huangism Jan 19 '15 at 20:20

Vinegar is a good part of recipe, however adding a little water to your scrambled egg is another trick. And after the broth with cornstarch and water has been whisked separately, then added to slow boil or simmer to your broth and simmered to marry well for 1-2 mins, turn off heat. Whisk your eggs in a pouring measuring glass with a fork. With same fork, start stirring a continuous swirling stir (right to left or left to right does not matter, but must be in same direction). Slowly and in a small stream, pour the egg into the broth while swirl stirring.

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Here's a technique I found in a recipe for Hot and Sour Soup: Beat together egg with 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch. Bring soup to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer, and slowly pour the egg into the soup in a thin steady stream. Let egg set for 15 seconds, then stir gently to incorporate.

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