Thousand Year Eggs

Thousand year eggs are also known as century eggs or preserved eggs. In fact the eggs are not that old, but more about that later. First I like to give you the recipe of making the fake version, a brilliant option that makes a good appearance on your Asian style buffet.

Making the gorgeous black eggs is fairly simple, yet it is a tasty alternative to the standard hard boiled egg.

Who connected us?! I tried some century eggs on one of my many trips to Vietnam, and discovered a recipe on how to make some salted eggs in an old Chinese cookbook. I found them an attractive addition for when I am cooking Chinese or Vietnamese food.

 Makes: 7 eggs |  Time:  1,5 hour

Ingredients

  • 7 eggs
  • ¼ cup/115 ml light soy sauce
  • ¼ cup/115 ml dark soy sauce
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • 50g ginger, finely sliced
  • 2 cups water

Instructions

  • Hard boiled eggs: boil the eggs in hot water for 10-12 minutes. Put them in cold water and peel them once they are cooled down.
  • In a heavy based small pot, mix all the ingredients except the eggs and bring it to the boil.
  • Turn off the heat and add the eggs. Let it stand for 1 hour or longer if you prefer the eggs to be more salty. If they are not fully submerged, turn them every now and then.
  • Ready to serve.

The Thousand Year Egg

The Thousand Year Egg is often referred to as being a Chinese expensive delicacy. In Vietnam, where this treat is called the Century Egg, is found commonly at markets and not that expensive. I can hear you thinking, yes it is cheaper because it is 10 times less old 🙂 but the price difference has noting to do with this as both Chinese and Vietnamese varieties are not that old. In fact they are only a couple of months old.

Vietnamese call them trứng bách thảo or trứng bắc thảo and sometimes they are known as bách nhật trứng which refers to 100 days old, which sounds a lot more like the actual ageing time of about 3 months.

The story goes that, like with so many recipes, it was an accidental discovery, when someone in the Hunan Province of China found duck eggs covered in lime that was used as mortar, where they probably had been been lying for an extensive period of time. Once discovering the unique taste of the “preserved” eggs, They decided to produce them, but with adding some salt to enhance the flavour.

My opportunity to try the thousand year old eggs was in The Mekong Delta, Vietnam.

How do you make thousand year old eggs or century eggs? The basic recipe for making century eggs is wrapping the raw eggs in a mixture of clay, rice husk or rice straw, ash, quick lime and salt and leave them for 2-3 months. The recipe can be adjusted with herbs and spices. As you can see in the pictures I bought 2 different varieties in a market stall in the Mekong Delta.

The eggs are quit smelly, which comes from the ammonia when the eggs are wrapped in the quick lime.

When you crack the egg it looks like a translucent jelly with dark black yolk. The egg taste quite salty and is mostly used as a condiment to another dish, although some prefer them as a beer-snack.

Even when the looks and smell are a bit hard to be enjoyable, I suggest you try one when you have the chance. Your curiosity will be rewarded.

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