If you’re more adventurous in your culinary explorations, you might want to try the century egg. Considered one of China’s most unique and savoury treats, this delicacy has a taste and texture unlike any other. This article will explore what century eggs are, how they’re made, their nutritional value and their cultural significance. So keep reading if you want to know more about this unusual but popular delicacy.
What is The Century Egg and its History
The Century Egg, also known as the Thousand-Year Egg is a Chinese delicacy that consists of a preserved duck egg. It is popular in East Asian regions, where it goes by many different names. Century Eggs have a black colouring, are slightly translucent and have a jelly-like texture. This is due to the unique production process where the eggs are preserved for several weeks.
The history of Century Eggs dates back centuries ago when they were first discovered by farmers collecting leftover eggs from abandoned nests and experimenting with preserving them through various techniques. Over time, these methods have been refined and perfected, resulting in the production of what is now a popular delicacy.
Over the years, Century Eggs have grown in popularity outside China in countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Korea and Taiwan.
The Cultural Significance of the Century Egg in China
In China, the century egg is an iconic food. Historically, the egg was used as a practical way to preserve food during the winter months. Nowadays, it is considered an essential part of many traditional Chinese dishes, and its popularity has spread around the world.
Due to its lengthy curing process and unique flavour, this type of egg has long been part of traditional Chinese cuisine. The thousand-year-old egg is believed to promote good luck and health, so they’re often served during festivals and important celebrations. It also connotes respect for one’s elders, symbolising patience, perseverance, and endurance in Chinese culture.
How to Make a Century Egg
Making a century egg is an involved process that requires several weeks of curing and preserving. The first step is to submerge the eggs in a mixture of clay, salt, ash and lime for up to three weeks. This creates a chemical reaction that draws moisture from the egg and which gives the eggs their unique black colouring and jelly-like texture.
Once they have been cured, the eggs are then moved into another brine solution containing tea leaves or herbs such as ginger and star anise for additional flavourings. After this stage, the eggs can either be eaten immediately or further preserved by storing them in a cool, dry place where they can last up to one year.
The unique thing about Century Eggs is that they are not preserved using traditional methods involving bacteria like many other foods. Its process is referred to as chemical fermentation, and this happens when water reacts to produce sodium hydroxide. Then when diffused through the egg shells, it changes the protein and structure of the eggs.
The Health Benefits of Eating Century Eggs
Century eggs have been enjoyed in many parts of the world for centuries for their nutritional content and health benefits. These mysterious and beautiful delicacies are packed with nutrition and loaded with minerals. While they may look unpalatable to some, eating century eggs can be incredibly beneficial to one’s diet.
Rich in amino acids and proteins, as well as calcium and iron, these unique treats can help boost energy levels while strengthening bones and muscles. In addition, due to the high concentration of fat-soluble vitamins like A and D, century eggs can help reduce inflammation and protect against viral infections.
How Century Eggs are Served
Century eggs have become a popular delicacy in most of East Asia, where they can be found on menus of restaurants or street vendors. They are used as ingredients for dishes like congee or noodle soup to give them a unique flavour or served with other condiments such as soy sauce and chilli oil. They may also be pickled for added flavour or chopped into small pieces to add texture to salads and stir-fries.
The Century Egg is undeniably a staple of Chinese culture and cuisine, carrying a rich history and tradition. Not only does it possess incredible health benefits, but its versatility in different regional recipes allows it to be part of many dishes. While its pungent flavour may not be for everyone, we recommend you try it at least once.