Thursday, June 20, 2024

Consuming a Preserved Century Egg at a Thai Market

Let’s face it, my bucket listing has led me to consuming some fairly bizarre meals prior to now. However nothing ready me for the primary time I used to be in Thailand and cracked open a century egg. This ain’t your grandma’s deviled egg we’re speaking about—it’s a poultry shock that’s extra like a darkish secret than breakfast fare. And consider it or not, this 1000-year-old egg is a culinary treasure in components of Asia. So fellow foodies, let’s take a dive into this “age-old” egg and see if it’s all that it’s cracked as much as be. 

Century Egg Pinterest

What Is a Century Egg?

Think about an everyday egg, however marinated in a secret mix of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and wrapped in rice straw for months. Then, peel away the shell to discover a translucent, jelly-like egg white with a yolk that’s someplace between inexperienced and black. Yeah, it’s not essentially the most appetizing sight, however don’t let the “century previous egg” look idiot you, these little eggs pack a gentle punch of taste.

Century Egg

Are Century Eggs a Hundred Years Outdated?

The identify “century egg” may conjure up photographs of historical culinary secrets and techniques and eggs preserved for hundreds of years. Whereas undeniably intriguing, the reality is a bit much less dramatic. Century eggs, also called thousand-year-old eggs or pidan, aren’t really 100 years previous. The identify is extra of a poetic license, referring to their prolonged shelf life achieved via a singular preservation course of.

So, whereas century eggs aren’t literal centenarians, their historical past and distinctive preservation course of definitely contribute to their mystique and cultural significance. Their age is extra symbolic than literal, representing a time-honored custom handed down via generations, ready to be found by adventurous palates.

Century Egg

Historical past of Century Eggs 

The precise origin of the century egg stays a thriller, shrouded in folklore and legend. One standard story tells of a farmer in Hunan Province who buried duck eggs as a courting gesture, which the lady he’s courting didn’t discover till half a month later whereas cleansing an ash pit. One other story means that the eggs have been first created as a solution to protect meals throughout occasions of famine. Legends additionally counsel its unintentional discovery in China round 600 years in the past.

Whereas the exact particulars could also be misplaced to time, what’s sure is that the century egg has grow to be a deeply ingrained culinary custom in lots of Asian cultures. At present, it’s additionally loved in different components of Asia, together with Thailand (with their pink eggs), Hong Kong, and even the Philippines.

Century Egg

How are Century Eggs Made

Historically, century eggs are made by packing duck, hen, and even quail eggs in rice hulls with a mix of clay, ash, lime, and salt (generally even tea.) This combination raises the pH of the egg, which triggers a chemical change that preserves the egg and offers it its distinctive taste and texture. Relying on the specified diploma of preservation, the eggs are allowed to relaxation for a number of weeks to a number of months.

The trendy methodology is completed by soaking the eggs in an answer of desk salt, calcium hydroxide and sodium carbonate for 10 days, adopted by a number of weeks of ageing in an hermetic container.

Century Egg

Are They Secure to Eat?

Sure! Regardless of their considerably alarming look, century eggs are completely suitable for eating when correctly ready. The fermentation course of breaks down the proteins and carbohydrates, making the egg barely alkaline and preserving it for lengthy intervals. The alkaline atmosphere inhibits bacterial progress, which makes the century egg a gastronomic journey slightly than a dangerous endeavor.

Century Egg

How Do You Eat a Century Egg

Regardless of its repute as an acquired style, making an attempt one is usually a enjoyable journey for meals lovers. Don’t let their unusual look put you off! Begin with small bites and benefit from the fascinating mixture of savory and earthy flavors within the creamy yolk and jelly-like whites. To maintain it basic, pair it with pickled ginger and soy sauce – a timeless combo that followers actually get pleasure from.

For a heartier expertise, incorporate century eggs right into a bowl of congee—a rice porridge standard in Asian delicacies. The refined flavors of the egg complement the comforting heat of the congee, making a soul-soothing dish excellent for breakfast or a comfortable night meal.

Pink Century Egg

What Does a Century Egg Style Like

The century egg’s style is kind of complicated. It’s usually described as creamy, wealthy, and pungent, with hints of ammonia and sulfur. The yolk transforms right into a custard-like consistency, whereas the white takes on a jelly-like texture—a style not like some other. Some say it’s an acquired style, whereas others discover it intensely flavorful and addictive. In the long run, the one choose will likely be you and your style buds!

Pink Century Egg Annette

The place Can You Purchase Century Eggs?

Monitoring down Century Eggs may really feel like a culinary quest, however concern not! These preserved treasures usually discover their means onto the cabinets of native Asian markets, tucked between unique spices and mysterious sauces. Specialty grocery shops, significantly these with a penchant for embracing international flavors, are one other haven for seekers of this time-honored delicacy. In fact, ought to the bustling market scene not be your terrain, you possibly can all the time go digital.

Discovering Century Eggs could seem to be a meals journey in itself, however don’t fear! You possibly can usually spot these particular eggs on the cabinets of native Asian markets, tucked between unique spices and mysterious sauces. Specialty grocery shops that love international flavors are additionally good locations to look. If busy markets aren’t your factor, you possibly can all the time search on-line.

Pink Century Eggs at Thai Market

Century eggs (or 1,000 yr previous eggs) are a culinary journey via time, custom, and sure, even slightly little bit of funk. So, are you courageous sufficient to crack one open and see what the fuss is all about? Simply keep in mind, it is probably not everybody’s cup of tea, however it’s undoubtedly a bucket listing expertise you received’t overlook.

My Expertise Consuming a Century Egg

Whereas taking a Thai cooking class, we made a cease by Chiang Mai’s Somphet Market to buy components for our dishes. This proved to be a bit extra eventful than initially deliberate. In fact, it had a colourful collection of native fruit and veggies, together with contemporary fish being scaled proper in entrance of you. However, what was sudden was the chance to eat a pastel pink century egg.

A century egg, also called a thousand yr previous egg, is an Asian custom wherein an egg is preserved for a number of weeks or months utilizing a course of that mixes clay, ash, salt, quicklime and rice hulls. Yum.

We walked via the market with our information as he identified components, a few of which we’d be utilizing in our meal and most of which might not. He picked up a century egg, gave a quick description and allow us to all take a whiff. It smelled like ammonia and boasted a moldy inexperienced coloration, so there weren’t many takers when requested if anyone wished to attempt it. Besides me. And I don’t even like regular, contemporary eggs.

In fact, if I’m going to eat one thing unusual so is Peter. Largely as a result of I make him. He’ll thank me for the expertise later. Or not.

Surprisingly, and fortunately, the egg didn’t style prefer it smelled. It tasted like a heat, barely previous hard-boiled egg. Not as dangerous as lamb mind, but not ok to eat your entire factor both.

We continued via the market, with the faint scent century egg on our breath. A long-lasting reminiscence.

With the egg prior to now, I fell in love with the eclectic kinds of eggplants, most of which I had by no means seen earlier than.

And I wished to make eggplant parmigiana with each one in every of them.

Regardless that we’d be making our personal curry in school, you could possibly buy it at Somphet Market already full. However, what enjoyable would that be?

I already had my coronary heart set on utilizing a mortar and pestle to make my spicy paste.

We wouldn’t must be buying coconut milk both, however there was a fast demonstration as to how is was made by merely squeezing.   

What fascinated me most concerning the market, apart from the scent of the century egg, was the air-filled baggage that held random nuts and beans. It reminded me of the plastic baggage of reside fish being bought at Hong Kong’s Goldfish Market.

And I used to be utterly perplexed by how they acquired the air in there. Apparently, it doesn’t take a lot to puzzle me.

With the procuring full, we headed to the kitchen to be taught what to do with all of our purchases. And I used to be grateful to not see a century egg in any of the luggage.

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