From My Wok to Yours - Taking the Mystery Out of Everyday Dining and Meals!!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Eggs, Oggs, Uggs?

Eggs are one of the most fascinating foods on earth. I was always hypnotized as a child whenever a Tarzan and Jane movie were on television. I was so impressed with Jane when she'd whip up those giant ostrich eggs. I never knew that ostriches lived in the jungle, just like lions...

As an animal lover, I often wish that all the eggs at the market were produced from free roaming hens. If you get a choice in the matter, the free roaming hen eggs are much tastier because they come from happy chickens who aren't stressed. Of course, that's a matter of opinion...

One thing that you won't find at your local market are cartons of ostrich eggs. Too bad, because all the carb restricted dieters would be in Egg Heaven.

A few egg options at your market include the brown eggs, which cost a tab more than the white eggs. Brown eggs have a richer taste and the yolk tends to be a bit darker than the yolk found in white eggs. Both brown eggs and white eggs contain about the same number of calories: Based on one large egg:

Egg White 17 calories

Egg Yolk 59 calories

Fried Egg 92 calories

Hard-Boiled Egg 76 calories

Poached Egg 76 calories

Scrambled Egg 100 calories

If you are watching cholesterol, check out the egg substitutes found in the dairy case which contain about 25 calories per serving. These are wonderful for whipping up quiches in a hurry. I generally take one carton of egg substitute, add a cup of white skim grated cheese, a few sliced mushrooms, about 1/2 cup of skim, a dash of salt and pepper, then we pour the mixture into a pie shell and bake at 350 degrees until done.

There are an abundance of egg recipes in traditional Chinese cooking. They include Egg Foo Yung, egg custard, egg drop soup, egg rolls (a bit of a misnomer) and my favorite (not really), Thousand Year Eggs.

These preserved egg delicacies are known in China by many names, most notably: "Thousand year eggs" and "Hundred year eggs." Do they really take this long to prepare? No. Food historians and contemporary cooks tell us Thousand Year Eggs are ready anywhere from 45-100 days. The titling numbers hold special good luck significance in Chinese culture.

"Eggs, preserved (ancient eggs, century eggs, hundred year-eggs, Ming Dynasty eggs, or thousand-year eggs) are eggs coated with a claylike mixture of lime, ashes and salt, then buried in shallow earth for about 100 days. The lime "petrifies" the the eggs: makes the whites firm, gelatinous and amber-coloured; the yolks, spinach-green and cheeselike. (The Chinese call these "eggs with skin" because of their black outer coating. The English names, although romantic and exaggerated, describe their antique appearance--they do look as though they've been buried for centuries.) Preserved eggs usually are eaten uncooked for breakfast or as hors d'oeuvres, and served frequently at banquets."

Most interesting of Chinese preserved eggs are the so-called thousand-year-old eggs (also called hundred-year-old eggs, ancient eggs, or Ming Dynasty eggs), a delicacy unusual in appearance, odor, texture, and flavor, and usually bought in the market rather than made at home. Despite their name, thousand-year-old eggs are usually cured for just a few months, and are said to be most tasty at about a hundred days. The eggs of chickens and other birds may be processed into thousand-year-eggs, but duck eggs are the commmon ones used. This, and the importance of duck eggs in preservation by salting, probably derives from the fact that they are produced only in localized habitats suited to ducks and need to be shipped to market, yet spoil more quickly than chicken eggs...Various methods of curing, from simple to elaborate, may be followed in making thousand-year-old-eggs. Salt is first dissolved in a small amount of water in a large bowl; then pine ash and lime are slowly added, and the micture stirred until it reaches a muddy consistency. A thick layer of the mixture is applied to clean duck eggs, which are then rolled in a tray of husks, of rice or some other kind, to give them a non-adhesive coat to prevent them from sticking to anything. Then they are placed in a big earthenware jar which is covered loosely and left to stand. The eggs are removed every three days and rearranged in the jar, and after fifteen days the jar is sealed and left for another month. At that time, after 45 days in total, the eggs should be ready. A more lengthy procedure is one involving an initial three months of soaking the eggs in a brine made of water, salt, lime, lye, and tea leaves. Then the eggs are dried, covered with a paste of clay, lime, ashes, and salt, and buried in the earth for further aging. By whatever process, the end product has a yolk that is green and resembles cheese, and a white that is yellow or amber and of a gelatinous consistency. In eating a thousand-year-old egg, one must first remove the mud and carefully clean its shell. Then one normally eats the egg, which has the smell of ammonia, uncooked. It may be eaten with hot rice for breakfast or a late night supper, or cut into pieces and served as a snack with soy sauce, sometimes garnished with gingerroot strips or slices, or with a sauce made of vinegar and shredded ginger. Such eggs may also be prepared in other ways, as in 'Fried 100-Year-Old-Eggs' or 'Old and Fresh Eggs,' a steamed dish that includes both thousand year-old egg yolks and fresh eggs. The ultimate in combining types of 'Steamed Three Variety Eggs,' which includes in a single dish thousand-year-old eggs, salted eggs, and fresh ones.

Personally, I will stick to the traditional fare that doesn’t cause even the one with the most intestinal fortitude to turn green.

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