Thousand-Year-Old Egg: Preserved Duck Eggs from Gourmet House of Hong Kong

White and yolk from a preserved duck egg, congee-style from the Gourmet House of Hong Kong.
White and yolk from a preserved duck egg, congee-style from the Gourmet House of Hong Kong.
Erica O'Neil

Despite what the supermarket aisle may lead you to believe, there's more to an animal than neatly wrapped styrofoam trays of meat. From tongue to tail, offal (pronounced awful) encompasses all those taboo edibles that don't make the cut at your local grocer. Just Offal is here to explore these oft-neglected byproducts of butchering, featuring different offal meals from establishments across the valley. This week: Thousand-Year-Old Egg served up by Gourmet House of Hong Kong.

The Ick Factor: Thousand-year-old egg, century egg, millennium egg, whatever you call it, it's a bit of a misnomer. In all likelihood the egg has really only been curing for a couple weeks to months. Just enough time to achieve a lovely grayish-green yolk, and allow the egg white to morph into a translucent, amber-colored jelly.

Traditionally, these eggs were produced by wrapping them in an alkali mixture of ash, lye, and clay, with just a sprinkle of salt for that extra special flavor. Stick those suckers in the ground for several months and you have preserved eggs that look like a mutant variation of a normal chicken egg. Rest assured, they taste like hell-spawned mutant eggs too.

(bite into all the juicy details after the jump)

Century egg in the raw, slices artfully arranged on a platter.
Century egg in the raw, slices artfully arranged on a platter.
Wikimedia Commons- Irrational_Cat

The Offal Choice: Thousand-year-old egg and lean pork congee from Gourmet House of Hong Kong. Congee is a type of rice porridge made by boiling the bejeezus out of a pot of rice and water. Add some chopped pork and century egg and you've got a well rounded meal of rice gruel and offal bits.

Tastes Just Like: Sulfurous gelatin. There may be something to that hell-spawn reference, because the brimstone was wafting off this "egg" was potent on the palate.

The egg white had morphed into a translucent, jellied substance with the color of those funky boba tapioca balls. In terms of both flavor and texture, the millennium egg was very similar to plain boba. It was mostly flavorless with a gelatinous texture, and was not at all offensive. It was just kind of there to add some color to the congee.

The egg yolk was an entirely other beast. Yolk from the century egg was a blackish-green color that to a layman's eye would look straight up rotten. Upon biting into the yolk it's dense and very creamy, instead of being chalky and powdery like fresh hard-boiled yolks. It also has a distinct sulfurous tang that tastes like, well, rotten eggs.

You Know It's Cooked Improperly When: The century egg bits you're getting are in huge chunks. This is a delicacy best eaten in small bites. You wouldn't eat a straight clove of garlic or a gigantic hunk of pungent cheese and expect to enjoy the experience. Instead, use sparingly as a component of a dish rather than the main ingredient.

Always been a DIY-er? You can make just about every component of your congee from ingredients common to your kitchen. Except for the preserved eggs. You will most definitely need to hit up an Asian grocer to pick up a thousand-year-old egg. I hear they even sell them by the case! Then you'll be set to make your congee with pork and preserved eggs.

Know of some offal that we just have to try? Let us know in the comment section.

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