Sunday, September 7, 2008
Chinese Tea Eggs
1 or 2 bags of black tea (can be decaf, but should be real black tea)
1 tsp 5 spice powder
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tbl salt or to taste
Hard boil the eggs. Remove them from the water, cool them till they can be handled. Gently crack the shell all over, the goal is to break it and the membrane under it but not have it come off. Put the tea, salt, powder and soy sauce in the water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Add the eggs. Let simmer for an hour or so, then take off the heat. Cool the pan of tea mix/eggs in an ice bath or sink full of cold water. Either move the eggs and tea mixture to a sealable container or tightly seal the pan and let steep overnight or 8-12 hours or more. They can sit in the liquid for a couple days if you like. Remove shell and eat.
I came across this recipe while I was reading about century eggs. In case you don't know about century eggs they are, well, gross. At least as far as I am concerned (although the snowflake/pine branch pattern on the outside of the whites is kinda pretty). If you really want to know about them go ahead and check out the Wikipedia article. But I warn you, I really don't think they will appeal to the western palate, unless you are one of those adventurous types. If so, hey go nuts. I haven't heard of anyone *dying* from them. Heh. But seriously, tea eggs are a completely different animal, they are just another Chinese method of cooking eggs. Tea eggs are eggs that are hard boiled then cracked all over but not shelled. Then you either simmer them for a couple hours in tea and spices and call them done or simmer, then steep them in cold tea and spices for many hours. This infuses them with the tea, soy and spice flavors. It's really good. The first time I made them I simmered them for something like three hours and they barely had any flavor. This time I steeped them overnight. But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, boil some eggs. I'm doing four, but you can make however many you like. Once they are cooked, cool them enough to handle. I put them under a faucet and run cold water into the pot for a couple minutes. This has always worked great for me. When you can handle them pull them out. Here is the tricky part. You want to take the back of a spoon and crack the shell all over, breaking the membrane under the shell but you don't want the shell to come off. But if some chunks come off don't sweat it. In a worst case scenario you can take the whole shell off, it just won't look half as cool. It will have a stronger flavor though. Hmm. Next time I will take the shell off some and leave it on others and compare. Too late this time though, that will have to be for an update. Put the eggs back in the pot of water. Now put the tea bag (next time I am going to use two), soy sauce, salt and five spice powder in there too. Bring it to a boil then simmer it for an hour or two. I don't know if this is necessary but it makes my apartment smell great, so I'm doing it. Now after they have simmered for a bit you want them to cool again. I'm putting the whole pot in a sink full of cold water to make it go faster. Now you can either tightly cover them in the pot they have boiled in or transfer them and the tea mixture to another container and chill them overnight. Remove the tea bag before chilling.Or even longer. From what I have read they can sit in the tea mixture for up to three days. When you are ready to eat them, pull it out, take off the shell and there you go. Unfortunately the picture is a little blurry, but it's kinda webbed looking. It's neat.