A black, gelatinous, smelly, preserved egg…
Sounds appealing right?
When a reader challenged me to try out the fearsome “Century Egg” (AKA Preserved egg, one-hundred year egg, millennium egg etc etc etc), a quick Google conjured up images of jelly like, black, amber and green icky looking egg touted to “smell like sulphur and ammonia.”
Naturally I had to try one.
I feel so lucky sometimes to live in a city that boasts such an incredible food culture, especially when it comes to authentic Chinese cuisine, I was spoiled for choice. After a few decent recommendations I settled on the Supper Inn in Chinatown which looked suitably authentic, a bit run down and off the main drag, just the way I like it.
Touting menu items like “Duck tongue and Jellyfish” and “Crispy skin Pigeon” I knew I had come to the right place… and consequently found some new dishes to try!
It may come as a surprise to learn that I’m not actually a big fan of eggs. I don’t mind them poached or scrambled but generally speaking I have never particularly liked the taste or consistency of a cooked egg yolk, especially a hard boiled one (or a foetal one for that matter).
Fearlessly I ordered a Preserved Egg and Salted Pork Congee, which came highly recommended online and for good reason! It was delicious, the pork was like pulled pork, and the congee was a great consistency (not too gluggy). To be honest the egg tasted just like egg, albeit with an interesting strong egg aftertaste… I felt a little cheated.
Honestly half of the challenge is getting past how they look. They look rotten, like hard boiled eggs that have begun to go rancid. They don’t really smell the greatest either, but they weren’t anything like the horrid sulphur and ammonia I had been left to believe.
Nothing ventured nothing gained so I picked up a slice and gave it a go.
Now If I were a big fan of egg I may have been able to deal with the texture of the yolk, but frankly I instantly likened it to having really strong egg flavoured peanut butter stuck to the roof of your mouth, and it wouldn’t budge. The preserving process makes the yolk so creamy and thick that it’s almost like eating a spoon of glue… rotten egg glue.
The white tastes like absolutely nothing… with the texture of thick jelly. Kind of like those little jellies you get at yum cha… without the yum.
This may all sounds very dramatic, and as aforementioned if you really like egg then I would warrant that a century egg may actually float your boat, however I think I’ll stick to eggs within their use by date.
Duck tongue and jellyfish sounds intriguing mind you…
Note: Congee, for those who are unaware is like a rice porridge or gruel (yummier than it sounds) that takes on the flavour of whatever you add to it. This one was like a egg and pork rice soup with spring onions on top, add a dash of soy and YUM!