Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Century Egg with Spicy Green Peppers - aka The 'Thousand Year Old Egg' Blog (with first tasting Video and serving suggestion!)

Ever heard of these, also known as 'Century Eggs'?

You might have done.You might not. It's probable that if you're a 'Westerner' you haven't tried them, unless you're in a very small minority. They are also known as 'Pei Dan', should you happen to be in oriental lands afar and wish to request one. Basically it's a duck (or chicken or quail) egg, preserved in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, and quicklime for a matter of weeks or months, until it looks a bit like this!

If you're curious, I can promise you that this is actually a very nice way to try them, with some delicious flavours and textures. Especially if you've never tried them before and are a little nervous! And if you don't like the egg you can always stir this tasty pepper accompaniment into some rice, perhaps with a little stir fried  chicken and vegetables and have a tasty meal! But you might just surprise yourself...

Serves two to four as an appetiser or snack, 83 to 166 calories per serving (depending on whether between four or two).

Despite their appearance, they're actually very inoffensive in taste (or at least the variety we experience in the UK are, which I think are possibly a little milder due to changes in them being shipped here, to being manufactured here, and the process etc. etc.).

The 'white' of the egg turns to a translucent amber colour, sometimes with light patterns near the surface like coral, or pine branches (another name for it in China is the pine-patterened egg) which are harmless. The white (or dark!) has a slight odour of ammonia, but very little taste and the texture of a boiled egg white, albeit a little firmer.
The yolk of the egg is a dark green/gray colour, maybe still a little liquid in the centre. It's taste is richer and stronger than that of a boiled egg yolk, but if I'm being honest, it was nowhere near what I was expecting, and was in fact somewhat anti-climactic, given that if I'd have been blind-folded, and not smelt it, I may just have thought it was a slightly strange/stronger tasting hard-boiled egg.

Traditionally, it's frequently served with congee, or with tofu, and also with pickled ginger as an appetiser. I chose to serve it with some spicy green peppers, Sichuan style. We also had some pickled ginger on the side, but I found eating pickled ginger with what essentially tasted like a hard boiled egg was not really to my palate.

I think this would also go very nicely with a few other things, this is the recipe...

Century eggs with Spicy Green Peppers

Serves two to four as an appetiser or snack, 166 to 83 calories per serving (depending on whether between two or four).

2 Century eggs (or you could make some Chinese tea eggs - boiled, cracked, then boiled again in tea etc. until the white gets a pretty marbled effect) [216]
1 green pepper (c130g) [34]
Splash of neutral oil (sunflower/groundnut etc. 1 tsp is enough) [45]
Sea Salt
Light soy sauce (2 tsp) [5]
Chilli oil (1 tsp - the Chinese variety with dried chillies etc. in it - note: contains wheat) [32]

Take the eggs out of the fridge to allow them to come up to room temperature.
De-seed the pepper, cut into quarters (from top to bottom) and flatten with the palm/heel of your hand. Heat
up a small, non-stick pan, add the (neutral oil), and cook the pepper over a low-ish heat for 8 to 10 minutes until tender and a little charred, pressing down to flatten (I cooked with a small copper-based pan resting on top to flatten them).

Remove from the pan and allow to cool a little. Chop finely and mix with the soy sauce, and a good spoonful of (Chinese) chilli oil with plenty of chilli solids in it.

Peel the egg (I rinse and dry after peeling, to remove any shell fragments), and cut into eighths. Serve with the spicy green peppers!

Don't be scared, now - see below - this is what (my) two not-so-small children thought of them!! Please note, Lorraine Pascale is NOT a food hero of mine, something of the opposite (even though she seems like a lovely person) - a sadistic friend of mine painted that portrait of her, which I now have to honour...

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