This particular recipe is from Charmaine Solomon's The Complete Asian Cookbook. I think I've referenced this book before. It's HUGE and covers the cuisines of Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Pakistan, The Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam. The Tea Eggs, of course, are from China.
I chose this one over another recipe I found in a different book simply because it was the faster of the two. I would like to try the other one as well, just to see how the eggs compare in terms of coloring and flavor. These eggs taste faintly of the tea and the five spice powder – warm and earthy and sweet/spicy. I figure the longer the eggs soak, the deeper the color and deeper the flavor. I'll definitely make these again and soak them for a longer period of time. I'll let you know how they turn out.
But for now…
Cha Yip Dahn
Serves: 12-18 as part of a selection of hors d'oeuvres
4 cups water
3 tablespoons tea leaves (I used 9 tea bags)
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon five spice powder (I – horrors – was nearly out of five spice powder, so I added a bit of each of the components and a lovely anise star to round it up to the required tablespoon. Give or take a pinch of something.)
Put eggs in a saucepan, cover with cold water and bring slowly to the boil, stirring gently (this helps to centre the yolks). Simmer gently for 7 minutes. Cool eggs thoroughly under cold running water for 5 minutes.
Lightly crack each egg shell by rolling on a hard surface. Shell should be cracked all over, but do not remove.
Bring 4 cups water to the boil, add tea leaves, salt and five spice powcer.
Add cracked eggs.
Simmer, covered, for approximately 30 minutes or until shells turn brown. Let eggs stand in covered pan for 30 minutes longer (overnight if possible).
The whites of eggs will have a marbled pattern on them. Cut into quarters and serve with a dipping sauce.
So, what to dip them in? The recipe for tea eggs is in the "Snacks and Appetizers" section of the China chapter. And, quite helpfully, the facing page has a list of several dipping sauces and other condiments traditionally served with the snacks and appetizers in the chapter. I looked through and saw many that looked tempting, but I ended up opting for the simplest – the Roasted Pepper and Salt Mix.
All you need are two tablespoons of black peppercorns and three tablespoons of salt.
First you roast the peppercorns in a dry pan for about five minutes - "until pepper gives off a pleasant smell."
And it did – it smelled…spicy and earthy and dark and intense and exotic.
Then, after you let the peppercorns cool a bit, you grind them up in a morter and pestle and then combine with the salt.
And then all that's left is to arrange the egg slices on a plate and pour the pepper and salt mixture into a bowl.