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This Black Egg Tastes Like Pungent Blue Cheese

Have you ever seen an egg that looks like this?!

Century egg.

Century eggs are a Chinese delicacy made by preserving duck, chicken, or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hull for several weeks to several months. This process turns the egg white a translucent dark brown color with a gelatinous texture, and the yolk with a green/blue color with a creamy consistency. It does not actually take a century to produce the eggs.

It is thought that century eggs were discovered around 600 years ago in Hunan during the Ming Dynasty. A homeowner found duck eggs in a shallow pool of slaked lime that was used for mortar during the construction of his home two months prior. Daringly, he decided to taste the eggs and was delighted with their flavor. He began to experiment by adding salt to the mix, thus resulting in the present century egg recipe.

Now, to answer the question that's on everyone's mind: what do they taste like? Century eggs have a very complex, salty, and pungent flavor, like ripe blue cheese. They have a strong, pungent smell of sulfur and ammonia caused by the breakdown of proteins. Century eggs are often served uncooked as an appetizer with soy sauce or added to congee, a type of rice porridge.

Century eggs can be found at most Asian supermarkets in the United States, or can be ordered online. Since they've been preserved, they do not have to be refrigerated. The eggs will keep for several months in the pantry, and almost indefinitely if refrigerated.


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