Nov 20, 2020

Salt and Pepper Century Eggs 椒鹽皮蛋

Back in the days, there weren't that many food shows available, and through the ventures of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, which might be the most popular food show on TV at the time, we learnt many interesting ingredients used all around the world.

One episode was about century egg, or preserved egg, thousand-year egg. Its Darth Vader appearance might frighten some, but to me as a Taiwanese, century egg is like a finely condensed, flavor-packed egg with gooey center and jelly-like egg white. Actually, egg "black" to be exact. 


Salt and pepper century eggs 椒鹽皮蛋 -


Ingredients (for a small portion)?

  • 2 century eggs
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 stalk scallion
  • 1 red chili
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • Some corn starch


How?

You can enjoy century egg straight up, or serve alongside with other ingredients without further cooking it. However, this time I'm going to stir-fry some salty, spicy, and garlicky seasonings to go with the eggs. Once cooked with such heavy aromatics, that distinct taste gets diluted. Also in exchange, the eggs are soaked in the flavors from garlics, scallion, and chilies. One might be scared of century egg's original form, but this Chinese flavor-kicking version, can change your perspective once and for all.


The century eggs I've got here were still with shells attached. So I bring a medium pot of water to a boil and cook the whole eggs, to help further harden the shape. About 5 minutes. Once ready, drain and set aside until cool enough to handle by hand. Peel off the shells and slice each egg into four even pieces.

Dust the eggs with corn starch.

Destem the scallion and finely chop the remaining section. Destem the red chili and give it a fine chop too. Peel and chop the garlic cloves.


Use a non-stick pan, drizzle about 2 tablespoons of olive oil or other light flavored oil. Turn to medium high heat and wait till the surface warms up. Add in the eggs and sear till slightly hardened on the sides. Remove and set aside for later use. You can place the eggs on top of a kitchen towel to soak up excess oil, but not necessary.

Use the same pan, add in scallion, red chili, and garlics. Cook for about 30 seconds, make sure not to burn the garlic. Transfer the eggs back along with 1/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of black pepper. Give it a quick mix and plate to serve.


It's a fairly small portion recipe, but I was just cooking for myself. I know even the cooked version tastes better than straight-up century egg, but Mister at home still not a fan of it. I love it though. 

Just double up the ingredients if cooking 4 eggs, but watch out on the amount of salt and black pepper. Better go easy on the seasonings first. Add more if needed after tasting the mixture.


Also don't be afraid of using more scallion, garlics, and red chilies if you can handle the heat. The more the merrier. In fact, these cooked aromatics might be even more addicting compare to the eggs, totally stole the spotlight there.


Other Asian egg recipes:


Nov 14, 2020

A Plateful of Tangy Goodness - Thai Seafood Salad 泰式涼拌沙拉

Were you amazed by all the flavors going on in a "salad" when first having a Thai seafood salad? Sweet, sour, spicy, and savory, so many good things happening in that one single serving, converting you to become a salad lover, no longer treating a plate of cold veggies as a boring, healthy-oriented only dish.

With all that seasonings going on, one might think that Thai salad can be hard to recreate at home. Well, it's true that getting all the Asian ingredients can be a hassle, but once you've already stock all the necessities, actually putting together the salad can be done fairly quickly. The best part is that you can even prep the dressing and the ingredients first, then put together when the party is about to start, making quite an impression on your guests.


Thai seafood salad -


Ingredients?

  • 170 grams shrimps (peeled, deveined)
  • 190 grams squid
  • 1 stalk scallion
  • 1/4 purple onion
  • 2 to 3 red chilies (preferably bird's eye chili)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 fresh kaffir lime leaves (can be substitute with dried version)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh lemongrass
  • 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro 
  • 2 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Thai chili paste nam prik pao (can be substitute with Thai sweet chili sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon palm sugar


How?

Peel and devein the shrimps. Cut the squid into rings or smaller chunks. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and transfer the shrimps and squid over for a quick dip. Wait till fully cooked through, should be fast, about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Don't even bother to lower the heat with such fast cooking time. Once ready, drain and set aside to cool down.

Peel and thinly slice the onion. Peel and chop the garlic cloves. Destem and finely chop the red chilies. Peel and finely chop the shallots. Chop the mint, lemongrass, and kaffir lime leaves. Squeeze some fresh lime juice.


Use a big mixing bowl, add in the lime juice, fish sauce, chili sauce, and sugar, mix till incorporated. 

Mix in all the other prepped ingredients, also cooked shrimps and squid towards the end. Taste and see if need more seasonings per your own preference. Toss and serve. 

I only used shrimps and squid here, but there are variations. Fish chunks, mussels, even crab lumps can be added to Thai seafood salad.

When writing up this recipe, I came to an idea that perhaps I should at least try to understand the true, authentic name of Thai seafood salad, in Thai script. So I googled it, something like this showed up "ยำทะเลไทย," and it supposed to mean Thai seafood salad? 


Well, well, that's really something I cannot understand at all, not even a bit. People always say that Chinese is the most difficult language to learn, but since I grew up with it, from my perspective, Thai script is like artsy drawings from another world. As for now, I'll put the Thai script aside, and continue to learn more about Thai culture through food, in a much more relaxed and appetizing way.


Other salad recipes: