Eating a Preserved Century Egg at a Thai Market


Let’s face it, my bucket checklist has led me to consuming some fairly bizarre meals up to now. But 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 imagine 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?

Imagine 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 old egg” look idiot you, these little eggs pack a gentle punch of taste.

Century Egg

Are Century Eggs a Hundred Years Old?

The identify “century egg” may conjure up photographs of historic culinary secrets and techniques and eggs preserved for hundreds of years. While undeniably intriguing, the reality is a bit much less dramatic. Century eggs, also referred to as thousand-year-old eggs or pidan, aren’t truly 100 years outdated. The identify is extra of a poetic license, referring to their prolonged shelf life achieved by means of 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 by means of generations, ready to be found by adventurous palates.

Century Egg

History of Century Eggs 

The actual 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. Another story means that the eggs had been first created as a technique to protect meals throughout occasions of famine. Legends additionally recommend its unintentional discovery in China round 600 years in the past.

While the exact particulars could also be misplaced to time, what’s sure is that the century egg has turn into a deeply ingrained culinary custom in lots of Asian cultures. Today, 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

Traditionally, 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 provides it its distinctive taste and texture. Depending 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 finished 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 getting older in an hermetic container.

Century Egg

Are They Safe to Eat?

Yes! Despite 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 durations. The alkaline setting inhibits bacterial development, which makes the century egg a gastronomic journey relatively than a dangerous endeavor.

Century Egg

How Do You Eat a Century Egg

Despite its fame as an acquired style, attempting one generally is a enjoyable journey for meals lovers. Don’t let their unusual look put you off! Start with small bites and benefit from the attention-grabbing mixture of savory and earthy flavors within the creamy yolk and jelly-like whites. To maintain it traditional, pair it with pickled ginger and soy sauce – a timeless combo that followers actually take pleasure in.

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 good for breakfast or a comfy night meal.

Pink Century Egg

What Does a Century Egg Taste Like

The century egg’s style is kind of advanced. 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 in contrast to every other. Some say it’s an acquired style, whereas others discover it intensely flavorful and addictive. In the tip, the one decide can be you and your style buds!

Pink Century Egg Annette

Where Can You Buy Century Eggs?

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

Finding Century Eggs could appear to be a meals journey in itself, however don’t fear! You 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 world flavors are additionally good locations to look. If busy markets aren’t your factor, you possibly can at all times search on-line.

Pink Century Eggs at Thai Market

Century eggs (or 1,000 12 months outdated eggs) are a culinary journey by means of 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? Just bear in mind, it might not be everybody’s cup of tea, however it’s undoubtedly a bucket checklist expertise you gained’t neglect.

My Experience Eating a Century Egg

While 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. Of course, it had a colourful collection of native fruit and veggies, together with contemporary fish being scaled proper in entrance of you. But, what was sudden was the chance to eat a pastel pink century egg.

A century egg, also referred to as a thousand 12 months outdated egg, is an Asian custom through which 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 by means of the market with our information as he identified components, a few of which we might be utilizing in our meal and most of which might not. He picked up a century egg, gave a short description and allow us to all take a whiff. It smelled like ammonia and boasted a moldy inexperienced shade, so there weren’t many takers when requested if anyone wished to strive it. Except me. And I don’t even like regular, contemporary eggs.

Of course, if I’m going to eat one thing unusual so is Peter. Mostly 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 outdated hard-boiled egg. Not as unhealthy as lamb mind, but not ok to eat the complete factor both.

We continued by means of the market, with the faint scent century egg on our breath. An enduring reminiscence.

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

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

Even although we might be making our personal curry at school, you may buy it at Somphet Market already full. But, 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 have to be buying coconut milk both, however there was a fast demonstration as to how is was made by merely squeezing.   

What fascinated me most in regards to the market, apart from the odor of the century egg, was the air-filled baggage that held random nuts and beans. It reminded me of the plastic baggage of stay fish being offered at Hong Kong’s Goldfish Market.

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

With the purchasing 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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