The Century egg, a favourite delicacy that is widely used in the Chinese traditional culture, surprises with its appearance and flavour. How the process of canning changes the colour and taste of the hundred age old egg and is it safe for consumption? The most avid cooking enthusiasts will find a recipe for preparing this unique temptation at home.
The century eggs also known as millennium, are definitely offering one of the most distinctive and off-beaten flavours that you can try. In Thailand, this delicacy is also know as “Horse Urine Eggs”, name given to them because of their sharp and edgy scent.
The discovery of the century eggs dates back to the Ming Dynasty, when a resident of the Hunan province accidentally discovered duck eggs in quicklime. Over the years the preparation of these eggs was modified. And while back in the days the eggs were covered in clay, now the century eggs are being stored in an alkaline mixture of salt, tea, lime and ash.
Ideally, the century eggs have to be stored in the alkaline mixture, buried in soil for about three months. The effect of these is very unusual – the egg white turns its colour to caramel and its texture resembles jelly, while the yolk can turn from dark brown to black.
Sometimes white snowflake shaped figures can appear on the caramel, egg white. The alkaline chemicals in the mixture are increasing the acidity of the egg, while breaking down some of the proteins into flavour molecules.
Nowadays in some regions of China, many manufacturers are trying to shorten the preservation process of the century egg and this is why they replace some of the main ingredients. They use zinc oxide or lead, something that you certainly would not want to put in your mouth.
The century eggs can be eaten without further processing. They are extremely popular in combination with tofu and rice porridge. The most avid foodies can try to prepare their own batch of hundred year old eggs and to touch to the legacy of the Ming Dynasty.We offer you a traditional recipe that is considered outdated by some. You will need these ingredients in order to prepare the alkaline mixture:
- 2 small cups of black tea
- 1/3 cup of salt
- 2 cups of pine ash
- 2 cups of ash from coal
- 2 cups mixed ashes from a fireplace
- 1 cup of lime
- clean soil
- rice husks
Mix all of the ingredients and cover the eggs with the ready mixture. Then carefully roll the eggs on a paper covered with rice husks (if you can’t find rice husks you can skip this step).
Store the eggs in a crock and cover them with the clean soil. Store them in a dark and cool place for about three months. Before consuming the eggs, make sure you cleaned them well and there are no leftovers from the clay mixture or the egg shell.