Century Eggs / Whoa

Pictured after the jump (because while this stuff doesn’t bother me, I may be in the minority here) is something called a “Century Egg”, which I’ve heard mentioned from time to time, particularly in reference to congee mix-ins (according to some, congee isn’t complete without the addition of one of these).

A Century Egg, also called a “Hundred-Year Egg,” a “Preserved Egg,” a “Thousand-Year Egg,” and (lovely) a “Horse Urine Egg,” is an egg that has been preserved in a mixture of clay, lime, ash, salt, and rice hulls for several weeks (sometimes several months). Like this:

According to legend, the Century Egg was discovered during the Ming Dynasty by a man who returned to his home, which had been under construction for several months, only to discover a few duck eggs that had been buried in quicklime. He ate them, either out of adventurousness or extreme hunger, and an odd, fascinating tradition was born.

It apparently smells very, very sulfurous – with hints of ammonia – and should not be eaten on its own, or in large quantities (sort of the same way you wouldn’t take an enormous bite of very pungent blue cheese). Justcookit describes it as follows: “If you took an x-ray of a raw egg, asked a three year old to colour it in and took a photograph of the result, the negative of that photo would look similar to a thousand year egg.” It’s best eaten in small portions mixed into relatively bland foods (such as the aforementioned congee), or with the addition of strong spices (such as chiles).

Incidentally, I appreciate – and second – this blog’s statement that “the foods of other cultures [shouldn’t be used for] shock value in [our] own culture.” So let me be clear: while some may see this as “disgusting,” for many, many people worldwide the taste of a Century Egg is remarkable, unique…even comforting.

I’m sort of dying to try one.

…Sort of.

Images via Odditycentral.

  • Haha great post! I love how at the end you call out ppl thinking this would be disgusting because they probably would. Honestly as an American it kinda freaks me out due to my own ignorance and lack of experience ever eating it. Ironically though, I tried balut for the first time in the Philippines (complete with vinegar and chilies and all), and I *loved* it. It actually DOES taste good. Everything else is psychological. I wouldn't eat it with my eyes open, let alone stare at it. I might have to try this egg sometime. Thanks.

    • jordanreid

      ok…i just googled “balut” (didn't know what it was) and…eee. i don't know if i could. i think i may need to hear more about this experience.

  • we saw these in the markets in Thailand, but I wasn't brave enough to try them! The shells were BRIGHT pink and they were labeled “horse pee” eggs.

  • Century Eggs…are quite acquired taste, like oysters, or cheese. In fact, if you like cheese, or bleu cheese, as you've written before, the yolk tastes VERY similar. I think you will like…be brave!! Very open-minded of you to even be “sort of” dying to try one =)

  • S.

    I actually find it weird that it's characterized as sulphurous-tasting on Wikipedia; I actually find that they taste less sulphurous than regular eggs but maybe I'm weird. There's some ammonia but I wouldn't say its characterized by its ammonia taste either. It's not like omg I'm imbibing cat pee! or anything. You just have to try them.

  • Pingback: BOB()

  • Could you please add the correct photo credits for these two photos with a link back to the originals? Or otherwise remove them, because this is not acceptable.

    I'm not allowed to add the url in this comment, but you can find it on flickr, FotoosVanRobin, century eggs.

  • Pingback: HECTOR()