Despite their name, the “thousand-year-old eggs” are not that old!
Thousand-year-old eggs (also called century eggs) are preserved duck eggs (皮蛋 - pe`ih-daahn in Cantonese). You can easily find them at wet markets. The century eggs are covered with mud and chips and left to ferment – not for a century – but up to 100 days. After that period the white has turned to opaque black and its texture is gelatin-like. The yolk has become black-greenish, is creamy and has a pungent alkaline taste.
The outside is gelatin-like / inside is creamy and has a strong alkaline taste
The 2 eggs covered with yellow-orange chips are “pe`ih-daahn”. |
The black egg is a salted duck egg (咸蛋) or haa`hm-daahn in Cantonese
How to eat thousand-year-old eggs?
Simply remove the mud and rinse the egg well. Then crack the shell, peel and slice the egg (like you would do for hard-boiled eggs). Thousand-year-old eggs are often added in congee to make the notable “thousand-year-old egg and pork rice congee” (pe`ih-daahn sau-yuhk juk1).
Pe`ih-daahn are also served as cold hors d’oeuvres.
|Pe`ih-daahn with pickled stem ginger|
Thousand-year-old eggs served cold with thinly sliced bean
Slices of pickled stem ginger (sold in small plastic bags at wet markets)
Stem ginger / Jí-gèung / 子姜
I remember the first time I tried thousand-year-old eggs. Pe`ih-daahn are definitely an acquired taste!