Eggs are one of the most versatile ingredients to exist, universally consumed in cuisines of practically every culture in the world. In fact, we all know that eggs can be prepared in many ways: boiling, steaming, frying, poaching, and so much more!
It isn’t surprising then that several unique delicacies and dishes have been made out of them, especially in a country like China, which has a particularly rich and long history. Coming in all sorts of colors and textures, here are four special kinds of eggs that can be found in Chinese culture:
1) Red Eggs (红鸡蛋, hóng jīdàn)
These dyed hard-boiled eggs are commonly eaten during special occasions, such as a child’s first month or first birthday, as well as in other celebrations like weddings other important birthdays. The color red is especially important because it is symbolic of fortune and new beginnings in Chinese culture.
2) Tea Eggs (茶叶蛋, cháyè dàn)
Sold by street vendors and night markets among Chinese communities across the world, this popular snack is prepared by cooking the eggs twice: first, by hard-boiling them; then second, by cracking them slightly before they are once again boiled in a mixture of tea, soy sauce, and spices.
Because of the way they are traditionally cooked, tea eggs are also known as “marble eggs,” referring to the darkened marble-like patterns created by the outlines of the cracked eggshells.
3) Century Eggs (皮蛋, pídàn)
A popular delicacy, century eggs are preserved chicken or duck eggs that have been cured underneath a mixture of clay, ash, salt, slaked lime, and rice hulls for several weeks or months, depending on the processing method.
The dish is known for its slight but distinct odor of ammonia and its smooth, succulent, and creamy texture. It is best paired with pickled ginger, which serves to offset the richness of the eggs with acidity when eaten alone, or served as a topping for congee.
4) Salted Duck Eggs (咸鸭蛋, xián yādàn)
Used as an ingredient in a variety of snacks and dishes such as mooncakes, congee, and potato chips, salted duck eggs are preserved duck eggs that have been soaked in brine or packed into a damp salted charcoal mixture. The result is something that resembles a hard-boiled egg, except that it’s saltier and denser.