eggs

eggs
Chinese preserve chicken and duck eggs, sometimes geese and quail for a change. The typical preserved eggs are xianjidan (salt chicken eggs) and xianyadan (salt duck eggs), so named after the salt solution in which they are soaked, with or without spices. Boiled, they can be kept for a long time. Another Chinese favourite is chajidan (tea eggs)—boiled eggs stewed with tea leaves and other spices. Boiled and shelled eggs cooked in a pork stew are named lujidan (stewed eggs), which, after deep-frying, becomes hupidan (tiger-skin eggs). They can be eatable right away or are storable in cool temperature for some time. None except salt eggs are available on sale.
Duck eggs are seldom used in jiachangcai (home-style cooking) as they taste fishy. This makes pidan (skinned egg) a favourite alternative. Pidan is largely duck eggs mass produced with quick lime, soda, salt, black tea leaves, water and ashes of plants yielding oxidized calcium and potassium. Mixed together, they yield such chemicals as sodium hydroxide, potassium hydroxide, calcium carbonate and ions. Their combination results in the eggs’ peculiar tea flavour and turns the yolk black and paste-like. The combination of amino acid and alkali osmosis gives the egg white a jelly-like texture covered with a crystal flowery pattern. For this reason, pidan is also known as songhua (pine flower).
To address concerns about food safety, traditional ingredients have been changed to produce lead-free pidan eggs. Medicinal pidan eggs with higher iodine, higher potassium, and lower sodium are welcomed by consumers.
YUAN HAIWANG

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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