Monday, July 22, 2013

Thousand-Year-Old Eggs

My husband is Chinese, born and raised in China. So you can imagine he has very different tastes than I do. Actually he is very open to trying new things and got used to American style food quite quickly. He also really enjoys foods from other countries; he eats Mexican, Indian, Middle Eastern, Vietnamese, and Thai food regularly. And I try to be open minded as well; I love the interesting and delicious Chinese meals he and my in-laws make, which are nothing like what you would find in a Chinese restaurant. But some of the things they eat are a bit too different for me. One example of this cultural divide between us is preserved duck eggs, also known as thousand-year-old eggs.

This is what they look like in the Asian market

They look very strange. They frankly look rotten. But my husband and my in-laws eat them with gusto, and even my very American children will have a bite or two now and then. I have never tried them myself, partly because I am not a fan of eggs anyway, but also I just can't seem to wrap my brain around how they look.

They are grey with black spots, and individually wrapped.

They are produced by taking fresh duck eggs and coating each one in a mixture of tea, ashes, lime, and salt. They are rolled in rice husks and then (traditionally, I don't know how they do it now) they kept them in a jar in a cool dark spot or buried them in the ground for 100 days (no, not actually 1,000 years). When they are ready, the coating is washed off, they are peeled and sliced, and they look like this:

The egg white has turned to an amber-colored gelatin, and the yolk is a grey color. They are served as sort of a side dish or condiment with other food. Often they are dressed in dark Chinese vinegar with a few drops of sesame oil.

My husband enjoying one with his chicken enchiladas!

Maybe I'll work up the nerve to try them someday. My husband keeps trying to get me to. I'll wait until I'm not pregnant though, because everything tastes gross to me right now. So have you tried 1,000 year old eggs? Has anybody who hasn't grown up with them tried them?

1 comment:

  1. My family and I are studying China (virtually, for a year) and a few months ago I found what I thought were 1000 yr old eggs- I got everyone psychologically prepared :) to try them, but they turned out to be raw, and not preserved. They must have been something else, and I have since found different ones, but we haven't tried them yet - my husband is not looking forward to it! This post is inspiring me to bite the bullet, and bring them out soon.