As someone who doesn’t eat a lot of meat, gyeran jjim, Korean steamed eggs, is my saving grace at Korean BBQ restaurants. The soft, scoopable, piping-hot egg custard presented in an earthenware bowl is served as an accompaniment to the BBQ. I could easily—and happily—make a meal of it when eaten with rice and banchan, which is what Koreans call side dishes.
This dish is traditionally made by cooking beaten, simply seasoned eggs in a ttukbaegi, a small earthenware pot, or in a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water. Sometimes it can feel cumbersome when short on time, so it’s become common to make gyeran jjim in the microwave.
My version of gyeran jjim is tender, custardy “steamed” eggs seasoned with dashi powder and with chopped crab sticks and diced scallions for a hit of savory flavor.
Gyeran Jjim Is the Perfect Side Dish
This 5-ingredient gyeran jjim cooked in the microwave is one to add to your weeknight dinner roster. Best of all, you can whip it up in a matter of minutes. Comforting and nutritious, this dish is best enjoyed with freshly cooked rice and your choice of banchan like kimchi and siguemchi namul for a satisfying (and economical) meal. You can either eat it right out of the bowl it was cooked in or scoop it out into individual bowls.
How to Cook Gyeran Jjim in the Microwave
For this recipe, eggs are whisked until the yolks and whites are fully combined. The eggs are seasoned with dashi powder, an instant version of an umami-packed Japanese stock, and imitation crab sticks cut into small pieces are added for flavor and texture. Before popping the egg mixture in the microwave, boiling water is poured on the eggs to thin them out and kickstart the cooking process.
- Use a microwave-safe container with a 35-ounce (4 1/2 to 5 cups) capacity—if you go any smaller, there’s a good chance your eggs will overflow. As you become familiar with the recipe, you can scale the measurements and the corresponding container up or down as needed. At a certain point, it becomes more of an art than a science!
- Do not to step away from the microwave when cooking your gyeran jjim. For evenly cooked eggs, you’ll need to take it out of the microwave periodically and gently scrape around the edges with a fork to combine the mixture.
- There’s no need to tinker with the microwave power level. The default setting, usually high (but it’s okay if it’s not), is fine. Keep an eye on the eggs toward the end to make sure you don’t overcook them.
When done, gyeran jjim should look just set but still soft. Poke the mixture with a fork to ensure the eggs are cooked through. A bit of liquid is normal—this comforting dashi broth is delicious.
Tips for the Best Korean Steamed Eggs
Anyone can put a dish in the microwave and call it a day, but keep these tips in mind to elevate the results:
- Whisk the eggs until they’re completely smooth. This ensures a uniform custard. You can strain your whisked eggs through a fine mesh sieve for a finer, creamier texture.
- Hot water is added to the egg mixture to jumpstart and expedite the cooking process in the microwave. Make sure it’s boiling hot!
- Sprinkle the scallions over the gyeran jjim right before the last minute of cooking to keep them from getting soggy.
I highly recommend using dashi powder for its characteristic umami, but you can opt for 1 1/2 teaspoons total of kosher salt instead.
You can mix up the seasoning and additions to your preferences, but I suggest keeping things on the simpler side for the best gyeran jjim. Use these ideas as a starting point:
- Add 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder or onion powder to the egg mixture.
- Sprinkle in a few dashes of cayenne pepper or togarashi into the eggs for some spice.
- Add 4 to 5 chopped raw medium shrimp (peeled and deveined) instead of the crab sticks.
- For a non-seafood version, dice and add 1/4 of a small yellow onion.
My Friend, the Microwave Is Your Friend
Gyeran Jjim (Korean Steamed Eggs)
6 large eggs
1 1/8 teaspoons kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon instant dashi powder like Ajinomoto Hondashi
3 imitation crab sticks, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 cups water
1 scallion, root trimmed and diced
Mix the eggs:
Crack the eggs into a 35-ounce (4 1/2- to 5-cup capacity) microwave-safe bowl. Vigorously whisk the eggs with a fork until smooth and combined well. Add the salt and dashi powder, and whisk again to combine. Stir in the crab sticks.
Add the boiled water:
Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in an electric kettle or in a small saucepan over high heat. Carefully pour the boiling water over the egg mixture and quickly stir together with the fork. The egg mixture will look thin—don’t worry if the boiling water slightly curdles the eggs, but try to work quickly for best results.
Microwave the eggs:
Place the bowl on a microwave-safe plate to make it easier to get the dish in and out of the microwave and to catch any potential spills.
Microwave the eggs, uncovered, on high for 2 minutes, until the edges begin to set. Remove the bowl from the microwave and gently scrape around the sides and bottom with a fork, breaking up large pieces of cooked eggs and mixing them into the uncooked eggs.
Cook the eggs for longer:
Microwave the eggs again for 1 minute. Then gently scrape around the sides and bottom with a fork.
Add scallions and finish cooking:
Sprinkle the scallions on top and microwave the eggs again for 45 seconds to 1 minute, until the eggs are just set and soft when poked with a fork. The total cook time depends on the power level of your microwave. The gyeran jjim should look like custardy scrambled eggs, soft but set without jiggling—something you can’t wait to scoop into!
A bit of water on top is normal. I think of it as a comforting dashi soup. If the eggs look underdone, microwave in 15-second increments until cooked through. Allow the eggs to cool for a few minutes before serving.
Store leftover gyeran jjim tightly covered in the fridge for up to 2 days. Depending on how much is leftover, reheat it in the microwave for 45 seconds to a minute and a half, just enough to warm the eggs through.
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|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 8g||10%|
|Saturated Fat 3g||13%|
|Total Carbohydrate 6g||2%|
|Dietary Fiber 0g||1%|
|Total Sugars 3g|
|Vitamin C 1mg||4%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|