Traditionally century eggs were made by preserving chicken or duck eggs in a mixture of salt, lime and ash, then wrapping in rice husks for several weeks. During this time the pH of the egg raises transforming the egg, the chemical process breaks down some of the proteins and fats into smaller, more complex flavours. After curing the yolk of the egg turns a dark green and has a creamy consistency, while the white turns amber and is gelatinous.
I chose a more modern method to achieve the same results: a salt and lye pickling solution, and encasing in modelling clay. After about a month my eggs were ready, and I'm happy to say they turned out perfectly!
Want to make your own? Of course you do!
Enough talk, let's make some eggs!
Step 1: Supplies + Materials
* Technically lye is a corrosive, not poison. Though, it' can be labelled as either. It's incredibly dangerous to handle and can cause severe burns with contact to skin, there's also an inhalation risk. Use gloves and a respirator.
There's plenty of other foods that are made/prepared with lye, but use caution and common sense.
Always use pure, 100% lye (sodium hydroxide).
Step 2: Prepare Pickling Solution
- 1L - Water
- 42g - Sodium hydroxide(NaOH) (lye)
- 72g - Sodium chloride(NaCl) (salt)
Place raw eggs into glass jar and pour the cooled pickling solution over eggs. Ensure all eggs are completely submerged.
Step 3: Store
Leave eggs at 15-20°C (60-70°F) for about 10 days. Keep an eye on them to ensure they don't pop up above the solution and stay submerged.
Step 4: Remove From Brine
You should be able to see some discolouration through the shells.
Step 5: Encase
Be careful when encasing in clay as not to break the eggs. After wrapping I put all the eggs into a resealable bag and left for another 2 weeks.
Step 6: Crack Open
The whites of the eggs will now be a jelly-like translucent amber colour and the yolks a very dark green and with a texture much like a hard boiled egg. Take a look at picture 2 in this step to see the different consistency between the yolk and white in my egg-xperiment.
Step 7: Serve!
Century eggs are typically served mashed up in soupy rice. I made a steamy bowl and served it to my friends.
The taste was...interesting. The appearance is deceiving and almost put me off eating it altogether, but once I ate some it wasn't that bad. It tasted kind of like a hard boiled egg, only with a more complex flavour and a slightly mineral/metallic taste. I'm happy I tried this and think I would probably eat it again. You know, sometime later (much, much later).
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