Thursday, January 25, 2007

In Praise of Eggs

I’ve gone a little eggy. On Monday I bought a tray of regular chicken eggs, eight salted duck eggs and a dozen preserved duck eggs or what are also known as century eggs. Today is Thursday and I need to go shopping for more. Short of a heart attack diet, I have averaging a consumption of 4 eggs a day, excluding egg traces that might be found in confectionary, cakes and spreads. Other than consuming runny egg yolks with my own homemade chilli-spiked tomato sauce and scrambled eggs, I’ve learnt to utilise the other types of eggs a little more.

The century egg that might seem vile and strange to the uninitiated can be a little unnerving. In addition to that, the free publicity that it had received on it, was not at all positive as seen on Fear Factor, and I personally have been stared down at tables with the worst response being “Are you really going to eat that? You know they use horse pee in the preparation right?” honestly, I don’t know if they use horse pee, but it did put me off those black eggs for a good 6 months of so. Nonetheless, they are still delicious and they are a Chinese delicacy. They might smell funny to some, but the yolk is rich and creamy and the resulting preserved egg white turns into a springy jelly-like substance. Yes, it might be stinky, but durian is also stinky and last I checked so is a long list of cheeses and they are all still considered delicious. During the course of the week I’ve also taken a page from Xi Yan, in using the century egg in its preparation of its house signature salivating chicken, and it really does help in keeping the mouth flames at bay.

The salted egg is also something that I’ve learnt to cook with. Before this week I had only known how to use it through boiling, peeling and eating the yolk as it is with tofu and rice, but this week I’ve added another step, sautéing! This additional step actually enhances the fragrance of the yolk, a very useful kitchen tip.

Now since I had acquired new found knowledge about salted duck yolks, what should I do with it? I had a few ideas but that got derailed when I could not say no to my rare chance of scoring fresh crayfish from my fishmonger. All I needed was to find a way to tie the two ingredients together and here’s a dinner dish that I came up with: Spaghetti with salted eggs and crayfish

Spaghetti with salted eggs and crayfish
Serves 4

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Ingredients:
8 salted duck eggs
2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
4 crayfish, cleaned and halved
300 g dried spaghetti
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
200 g Chinese flowering cabbage (choy sum / cai sin), washed and trimmed
Salt to taste
Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Method:
1. Bring a pot of water to the boil. Gently lower duck eggs and boil, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Strain eggs and whilst still hot, halve eggs and scoop yolks unto a bowl. Discard egg whites and shell. Mash yolks with a fork and set aside.
2. Pre-heat grill to 180°C. Mix 1½ tablespoon yolk with butter and spread over crayfish meat. Grill for 8—10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to the boil. When it comes to a rolling boil, add pasta and cook as directed until al dente, then drain.
4. When the pasta is 2 minutes from being ready, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Add egg yolks and sauté for 1 minute. Add flowering cabbage and sauté for another minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. Remove saucepan from heat, add pasta and toss well. Divide equally into 4 individual bowls, top each bowl with 2 halves of crayfish and serve.

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6 Comments:

Blogger Colin said...

There is, in fact, no horse pee involved in the preparation of century eggs.

3:23 AM  
Blogger hinata said...

I second that, no horse pee nowdays, that was apparently the traditional method of preserving but now ammonia is used.

Like the pasta! Looks like uni :)

12:26 PM  
Blogger wiwimu said...

ooooh yummy

9:10 AM  
Blogger superfinefeline said...

this recipe looks soooo yummy!!! I wish I could hv some now... :(

9:26 PM  
Anonymous Lyn said...

wow, can u tell me how u cleaned ur crayfish?

11:58 PM  
Anonymous lyn said...

oh by the way, try stuffing salted egg yolks into squids(sotong) and steam.
really good. my all time favorite.

12:06 AM  

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