February 21, 2015
They're called hundred year old eggs, and they look the part. But although pidan may look like scary eggs from hell, when you take a bite you discover something remarkably delicate. I love them.
See that flash of amber light on the plate? That's the sun from the garden, reflected through the beautiful eggs. I bought them last night in Chinatown, at what must have been the last market open. The place felt deserted; New Years is best spent at home.
These spooky duck eggs are often made by mixing tea, lime, salt and wood ash into a paste, wrapping it around each egg and leaving it to harden. After allowing the eggs to ripen for at least a month you crack away the hardened clay to unveil this otherworldly delicacy. This ancient method is still practiced all over China, but there's also an easier way: today lime and sodium bicarbonate are used to make commercial century eggs.
They're wonderful eaten on their own, or sliced into a bowl of congee. They're great on tofu. And if you want to punch up their gentle flavor, cut them into wedges and brighten them with a bit of sesame oil, soy, and a splash of black vinegar. Happy year of the ram!
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