I made an incredible discovery last night. I'm not saying I discovered this as ChrisCo "discovered" America, but I made a personal discovery after trying a century egg.
Those things I never thought to try (at least in France) which I always thought were somewhat rotten by their sulfuric odor and black aspect... definitely a water element...are actually intriguingly delicious!
I found them at my Asian Wonderland last week during my mystery tour and reported back to one of my friends who has told me he had always wanted to try them. You don't have to tell me that type of thing twice. Within a few days, a dinner party was arranged with one of the appetizers being a century egg.
What is that black strange thing exactly?
It is a delicacy dating back from the Ming dynasty in China in which a hen, duck, goose, or quail egg is cured in a solution of lime, ash, salt, and clay for about 100 days (not 100 or 1000 years as the name suggests.) The pH of the alkaline solution changes the pH of the egg (around 10 to 12) curing it, turning the white an amber color and the yolk a dark greenish grey with a creamy center. The first century egg is said to have been an accident. Some construction workers found these eggs that had been sitting under a pile of alkaline clay and lime on the site.. and one of those had the guts to actually eat the egg. The rest is history, as we say.
It is also said to have some medicinal properties for digestion, lower blood pressure, improve appetite, vision, liver issues, and act as an aphrodisiac. It is a Wood element, after all.
The Thai and Laos literal translation of this delicacy is "Horse Urine Egg" which refers to the ammonia odor after shelling. The odor is pungent and the eggs should be rinsed after shelling to reduce this aspect.
How should we enjoy the delicacy?
It all depends on the type of party you're having. It can be chopped up and used as a topping for congee (a Chinese rice porridge), it can be served on a stick with pickled ginger, it can be used in a salad with a tangy vinegary soy sauce. It can be stir-fried, breaded and deep fried.. but the best way to try it for the first time is "au naturel" so that you can really understand the different levels of textures and flavors.
Lets talk about that now, shall we?
When you first shell it, there is a strangeness about it. It goes against anything we know about eggs to shell and end up with a brown glistening jelly ball in your hand. The snowflake pattern is breathtaking.
When you cut it open it is even more amazing. There are truly the different layers of curing which almost look like the insides of a geode, glistening and delicate, and wanting to be displayed.
See what I mean?
This is exactly what it made me think of. Something unique and full of a past life that I will now uncover and become One with.
I found it beautiful.
The whites are now an amber gelatin with a snowflake pattern on the outside. The texture is just that.. a jelly you can grab with your fingers. The taste is mild when tasted without the yolk. It is pleasant to let it melt in your mouth.
The yolk is creamy and a bit more funky. It is mild at first, and then the aftertaste becomes more and more pleasant as it has passed through the tasting organs. It leaves you wanting more, with that lingering addictive taste that keeps you intrigued. I thought it would be extremely salty, but it wasn't. I can see a black vinegar and soy sauce mix going well with these in a salad, but I really enjoyed just tasting the wedges of the egg without any adornments.
I served these with some wasabi covered black beans and some prawn crackers for our appetizer before the Bo Bun dinner.
I will without a doubt buy these again during my next trip to Asian Wonderland...