Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Food Adventures: Preserved Eggs

My first taste of a Preserved Egg!!

I first heard of Preserved Eggs in one of the most influential books I have read, Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky. Since the moment I read about them, I have wanted to try one. Watching a television program on the Food Network that featured a segment on preserved eggs only reinforced my desire. Preserved eggs are a traditional Chinese treat (or practical way to keep eggs) traditionally made from uncooked eggs that have been plastered with clay which has been processed with a mixture of salt, ash, lye and tea. The eggs are covered in clay for a month or more. This process keeps the eggs from spoiling. When the eggshell is cracked, the egg comes out whole. It is translucent, brownish to greenish to grayish-black in color, with a consistency similar to that of a hard boiled egg. The yolk is creamy, and the egg white is rubbery. Preserved eggs are also called "1,000-year-old eggs" and Century eggs. I call them intriguing. 

Some like it hot. Some like it cold. Some like it in the pot, 1,000 days old.

I had the opportunity to try a preserved egg when some old and new friends and I decided on a whim to go to the locally-owned ABC Cafe in Overland Park, KS. I had never been there, but I had heard about their many tasty offerings. They had a large menu, and everything sounded good. Everything I tasted was delicious, too (especially the slightly spicy turnip cakes - trust me on this and give the dish a try!)! 

Thinking about it.

Before I ordered, I noticed they served Preserved Egg in porridge. I just had to try it! Apparently (says Wikipedia), this is a typical way to serve Preserved Egg in a dim sum restaurant. I thought it was a good way to serve the eggs and show off their attributes. Preserved eggs are very eggy - egg-squared, you might say. The mild porridge complemented the strong flavor of the eggs. I also think Preserved Eggs would taste good cut into small pieces in a stir fry or noodle dish. A Preserved Egg is not something I would want to eat whole, like an apple. Its flavor is too strong, or maybe I just need to grow more accustomed to the taste. According to Wikipedia, Cantonese people serve slices of preserved egg wrapped in pickled ginger as an hors d'oeuvre. That sounds appetizing to me. I believe those two strong, and opposing, flavors would work well together.

I am happy I tried preserved eggs. I am not sure it will become a favorite delicacy, but it could add an interesting element to a dish - or even a party! I am a rather adventurous eater (Hey, I prefer to travel by food, not by motorcycle!). I truly enjoy trying foods that are unique or new to me. It helps me tap into other cultures and get to know the people the foods belong to, explore new things, and expand my world, in general. I would really love to taste-test my way around the globe. I realize my food adventure is somebody else's  comfort food, which, of course, makes it easier to eat foods with which I am unfamiliar.

What's the most exciting or unusual food you have tried? Where do you draw the line? Or do you have a line? I found this kid while I was looking up videos about preserved eggs on YouTube. I'm kind of in love.

Here's to many grand food adventures,

Alison :)

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