Why This Recipe Works
- The heat and acidity of the soy-sesame dressing pairs nicely with the rich, savory preserved egg.
When I was little, my mom used to talk about her Chinese high school friend, Betty, who ate these "hundred-year-old eggs." I was fascinated at the idea of eating this black egg. When I moved to Singapore, I finally had my chance. Though this treat (and yes, it has become that for me) is not specifically Singaporean, century eggs are found everywhere because of the large Chinese population here.
Century eggs, also known as hundred-year-old eggs or preserved eggs, are simply cured eggs. They're made by covering an egg (chicken, quail, or duck) in a highly alkaline mixture—such as a mixture of salt, clay, ash, tea, lime, and rice hulls—and left to sit for a couple of months (so really more like a hundred days, not a hundred years). During this aging process, the eggs develop a sulfurous aroma, their whites become a translucent dark brown jelly, and their yolks take on a soft (sometimes even gooey) texture and turn a dark, greenish-gray hue.
I found a package of these at my local FairPrice supermarket, right next to the regular eggs. As you can see, the eggs came covered in a crumbly brown mixture. Once this layer of mulch is broken off, the eggshell is peeled away just like a hard-boiled egg. After a quick rinse, it's ready to eat. No cooking necessary.
The first time that I tried century eggs was in a creamed spinach dish from Chong Qing Grilled Fish. The brownish-green wedges were slathered in the tasty sauce—a safe way to try it, I thought. The eggs were great! The anticipated taste of sulfur and ammonia (which can be quite pungent in some eggs) was very faint—a sign of a good egg, from what I've read. Next step was to try it in a rice porridge. Check.
After that, I gave it a go in a century egg salad, a popular dish here, and my absolute favorite way to enjoy it by far. The bright soy-sesame dressing, with a bit of heat from chiles and crunchy fresh herbs, perfectly balances the rich, unctuous egg. I can easily down two whole eggs this way—if I don't let the slippery egg slip through my chopsticks.
Century Egg Salad Recipe
This very special egg is best enjoyed bathed in a soy-sesame dressing with lots of crunchy fresh herbs and a bit of chile heat.
2 preserved eggs, peeled, rinsed, quartered lengthwise (see note)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons water
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 medium clove garlic, sliced
1 red Thai chile, sliced
1 scallion, sliced
1/3 cup chopped cilantro leaves
Arrange preserved eggs on plate. In medium bowl, whisk vegetable oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, salt, sugar, and garlic. Pour over eggs and sprinkle with chile, scallion, and cilantro. Serve.
Preserved eggs (also known as century eggs or hundred-year-old eggs) can be found in the refrigerated section of most Chinese markets. Occasionally they can be found pasteurized and stored at room temperature.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 28g||36%|
|Saturated Fat 5g||23%|
|Total Carbohydrate 4g||1%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||2%|
|Total Sugars 1g|
|Vitamin C 5mg||24%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|