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15 Interesting Century Egg Facts

by Sankalan Baidya
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We prefer calling it outlandish ovum but it goes by the name Century Egg. Some call it Millennium Egg. So what is it? It is essentially a preserved egg that has a nasty and very unappetizing color. Let us learn 15 interesting Century Egg facts and learn all that we can about this really weird food.

Interesting Century Egg Facts: 1-15

1. There are several names for this outlandish ovum. It is known as Century Egg, 100-Year Egg, Millennium Egg, 1000-Year Egg, Preserved Egg and Pidan.

2. Despite the names, the Century Egg is not really made by preserving an egg for a 100 or a 1000 years. At the most, it is preserved for a few months but usually a few weeks of preservation is just enough.

3. It is a typical Chinese cuisine made by preserving a quail egg or duck egg or chicken egg in a mixture of rice hulls, quicklime, salt, ash and clay.

4. The traditional production method involves creating a tea infusion made by adding 3 pounds of tea in boiling water. Then, 3 or 7 pounds (depending on summer or winter respectively) of quicklime is added to the infusion along with 7 pounds of wood ash made by burning oak and 9 pounds of sea salt. All of these are mixed together to form a smooth paste.

5. The paste is then used to cover every single egg individually and then each covered egg is rolled in a heap of rice chaff.

6. The rice chaff-covered eggs are then placed in jars tightly covered with cloth or in tightly woven baskets and left for several weeks or months.

7. During this curing period, the mud wrapped on the eggs become hard crust. The hydroxide and sodium ions present in the paste go inside the egg and raises the pH level of the egg to anywhere between 9 and 12 or even more.

Interesting Century Egg Facts

8. When this happens, the flavorless fats and proteins of the egg are broken down into flavored compounds. The yolk of the Century Egg becomes grey or dark green in color and grabs a very consistent creamy taste with a very sharp odor of ammonia and sulfur.

9. The egg white gets a dark brown color and converts into a translucent jelly that gets a salty flavor.

10. Once the curing is completed, this outlandish egg is actually ready to eat and no further preparation is required. It is either served on its own or as a side dish.

11. The aforementioned production method is actually traditional. Century Egg can be produced using modern methods which involves soaking eggs in a brine of sodium carbonate, calcium hydroxide and salt for 10 days and then wrapping them in plastic and aging them for several weeks.

12. Adding zinc oxide can actually speed up the curing process but the amount of zinc oxide added is to be very strictly monitored because excessive zinc consumption can lead to copper deficiency in body.

13. Pine-Patterned Egg is an alternative Chinese name for the Century Egg. This name is derived from the fact that the curing process often leads to formation of pine branch like patterns on the surface of egg white.

14. Thai people have a very interesting name for the Century Egg. The Thai name is ‘khai yiao ma’, which literally means Horse Urine Eggs. This weird name comes from the age-old misconception that the eggs are prepared by soaking them in horse urine. The misconception popped up because of the very pungent smell of the eggs.

15. It is said that the Century Egg was an accidental discovery some 600 years ago during the Ming Dynasty in China. According to the story, a man in Hunan province found duck eggs preserved in slaked lime pool that was left during the construction of his house two months prior to the discovery. He tasted the egg and liked it and decided to produce more but added some salt just to improve the taste.

Sources: 1, 2

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