The seventh in our weekly challenge series was a challenge I’d kept in mind for a while. I’d given a hint about it a couple of posts ago (when I tried the Grass Jelly), and I’d mentioned it on Facebook. I was quite excited about this one! But then I got a cold, and it’s taken a while to wade through all the snotty tissues and naps to actually write it.
This post the tale of two preserved eggs, and the engineer who
willingly ate them.
We’d both heard of different kinds of preserved eggs before. But you don’t really see them around in New Zealand. Then we got here, and suddenly they were everywhere. Not on menus all that much, weirdly enough, but at plenty of supermarkets, mini-marts, mega-marts, and market stalls. So it was only natural that they went on the challenge list.
Initially, the challenge was going to be just a Century Egg (the brown one above, preserved in some mad concoction for 100 days). But plans changed when we could only buy them in a four pack. We did not anticipate enjoyment (The Engineer got progressively more nervous the closer we got to the challenge), and didn’t want to be wasteful. We thought the market might allow us to buy just one.
But when we got there, there were no Century Eggs to be seen. We did see the weird black eggs though, and decided to go for those. Despite my great requesting, and gesturing (“numbers are EASY” I thought), we did not get just one. We walked away with three of these, not quite certain as to what was inside. When we googled and discovered they were Salted Eggs, The Engineer was relieved, but I was disappointed. I decided that the challenge should be extended, and should include both Salted Eggs and Century Eggs (which we bought in a four pack, despite the wastefulness). I was intrigued. The Engineer was not impressed.
The first step was actually getting into the eggs (pretty easy). Then the Salted Egg needed to be cooked (again, pretty easy – just like boiling a regular egg).
Then the fun stuff started, with the peeling of the Century Egg. Apparently we weren’t very good at this stage (well, he wasn’t, I stayed as far away as possible). Because our egg didn’t come out looking like the google image search Century Eggs. It looked a whole lot worse. The photo is (disturbingly) accurate, so I won’t bother trying to explain it…
We did quickly check whether a preserved egg could be rotten. But when we didn’t find anything much, we decided to just go for it. (hint: we both survived, so it must have been okay). I laughed evilly. The Engineer laughed nervously. But eventually he got it together, and managed to eat a mouthful. The scowl and slightly nauseated look on his face said it all.
“I am not a big fan of this challenge”
But his verdict was actually that the taste was not too bad.
“Why do you look like you’re about to spew then?” I asked.
“It’s the smell…”
And as I got closer, I could see what he meant. Ammonia and sulphur rose up out of the grey yolk, and definitely did not smell like food.
But when I took a very small nibble, I realised that he was right. The taste is actually not too bad. I didn’t want to eat more. But I also didn’t spit it out.
I’ve been told that you don’t generally eat them alone, and that having them in porridge/congee is the way to go. And, to be honest, I’d consider giving it a go. Maybe if it was out of the shell for a bit, the smell would dissipate a little, and you’d just be left with the slightly interesting taste.
Then again, if you can eat a lovely fresh egg, why would you bother with one that seems kinda rotten?
We tackled the Salted Egg second, partly because of the cooking time, and partly because we thought it was a bit less scary. And when we cut into it, we saw that we were right. In fact, it looked positively egg like. After the grey/brown sulphury mush of the last attempt, this was quite a relief.
The yolk had a slightly odd texture, but at least it was yellow (/orange). The white looked fairly normal. The smell was quite salty, but almost smelled like it was not sodium chloride. It reminded me slightly of a chemistry experiment, but wasn’t entirely unpleasant. (Heck, I think most things would smell quite pleasant after the Century Egg!)
This one we both tasted at about the same time. The Engineer felt pretty cocky after managing the Century Egg. And I actually thought this one might be pretty good. I like salt. I like eggs. I like them together.
But in this case, the taste was far worse. The first taste was fine. Salty, but nothing too crazy. And then it hit. SUPER salty, sharp, and actually quite off putting. I thought that we’d probably finish this egg. But there was no way…
Again, I suspect that eating it alone was a mistake. But also once again, I wonder why I would eat a preserved salted egg, when I could just have a regular egg with a little salt. The choice seems kinda obvious.
Overall, the eggs were not quite as bad as expected. But as far as the challenge goes, they were still the worst of times. Because the best of times was the post-challenge ice cream. (And yes, I know how awkwardly I incorporated that Tale of Two Cities reference. My head’s still a bit stuffy from the cold, okay?)
When I went to buy the Century Eggs, I felt so bad giving The Engineer this tough challenge that I also picked up some Double Dutch ice cream. Vanilla with chocolate, cashew nuts, and marshmallows. And he dug it. I didn’t capture a smile on his face, but you can see how fast he scoffed it by the blurriness of his hand…
(turns out the ice cream was nothing to write home about, but after those eggs, it was pretty darn good!)