These eggs go by many names, million-year, 1000-year or 100-year eggs. The folklore behind these eggs is from about 600 years ago during the Ming dynasty in China, a poor pheasant found preserved duck eggs embedded in clay and was so hungry that he ate them. A more romantic version of this story is that a farmer fell in love with a girl and used to hide duck eggs for her outside her house as a gift. She found them months later and they had become preserved.
Fables aside, preserved eggs are made today by encasing eggs in a mix of clay, salt, ash and lime and burying them for months. The whites become soft and gelatinous and the yolk turns a dark green. This was a useful way to store eggs historically because the land was unforgiving, and eggs were a cheap source of protein for travellers who had to travel light and across barren landscapes.
This is a cheat recipe, a simple recipe for cooking hard-boiled eggs in soy sauce with herbs and spices. The whites become hard and chewy and the yolks do darken a bit. The soy adds a lovely balanced salty coat to the whites, turning them dark.
These eggs are usually eaten as is, but I wanted to dress them up a bit. The yolk was blended with mayo and wasabi and they were served with a small piece of seaweed for a touch of the sea and togarashi for spice that accented the wasabi. the Japanese influence was definite and the eggs were the perfect balance of salt and spice.
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6 eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon minced coriander root
1 teaspoon ginger paste
10 black peppercorns
3 tablespoons oil
1 cup water or vegetable stock
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
4 pieces tofu (optional)
Cilantro, to garnish
For the deviled eggs:
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 tablespoon wasabi, or to taste
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds
A few drops of roasted sesame oil
Salt, to taste
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
12 thin strips of roasted nori seaweed sheet
Add the garlic, coriander root, and ginger to a small blender with a few tablespoons of the stock and make a thick paste. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a small saucepan and add the paste. Fry for 2 minutes on medium heat till the paste is cooked and aromatic. Add all the other ingredients into the pot including the eggs and tofu. Bring to a boil and turn the heat down to a simmer. Simmer gently for 60 minutes.
Remove the eggs from the sauce when cooled.
Cut the eggs in half longitudinally. Take out the yolks carefully. Mash the yolks with a fork with all the deviled egg ingredients except the seaweed. Work the mix to a smooth paste. taste for salt and heat from the wasabi. Chill till needed,
When ready to serve, add the strip of seaweed at the bottom, half covering the hole of the white. Scoop a round teaspoon of the egg yolk into the hole. Garnish with togarashi flakes.