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Monday, April 13, 2020

Marbled Tea Eggs

Mine got a little green in the middle, but yours doesn't have to!

The Grand Arbiter of Madame Askew's Temporal Entourage has cordially invited me, this humble chef, to have a little fun with this Grand Tea Time Smackdown - a voting gauntlet of what tea time snack reigns supreme! If you'd like to participate, head to their facebook page to get their vote on! Oh, and fill out a bracket, because what the heck else are you going to do in the middle of this #CovidTine2020?


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It was actually a little harder to decide than I thought it would be, but I've declared the BBQ Pork Bun (or char siu bao) to be the winner on my own bracket. Who knows? Maybe later on I'll show off some fun recipes of my own for my own choices? Stay tuned!

I've been sharing about on my own Facebook my opinions, but I had to take the opportunity to show off one of my absolute favorite tea time snacks, the Marbled Tea Egg, straight out of the OG Tea Community - China.

I made these in Culinary School, and this southern Chinese snack is a delicious - albeit time consuming - mid-afternoon snack to go with some tea. Naturally,  you can change a few things about, but this is how I like to make mine. You can obviously make as many as you want, but I only make six at a time.

Marbled Tea Eggs
yields 6 eggs

  • 6 eggs (you can get locally-sourced nowadays on Facebook marketplace for around $3/dozen!)
  • 4 cups water.
  • 3 Tbsp Loose-leaf tea of your choice
    • Traditionally you're meant to use a green tea such as oolong, but I personally prefer black tea, like Earl Gray
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp white wine
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 3 allspice berries
  • 6 slices of fresh ginger
    • Simply slice thinly across the broken-off knob of a whole root!
Place all of your eggs in a pot and add enough of your cold water to cover, reserving the rest. Turn on your heat to high and set the timer for 7 minutes. Yes, you're boiling from cold and going to hot. Trust me on this. Your water will boil and it'll cook for the right amount of time when your timer goes off, and then you'll quickly pop these in an ice bath. Yes, ice bath. This stops the eggs from over-cooking, so you don't get a gross-green  yolk. 

Next, add the remaining water(if there is any), the tea, and all of your spices. Bring them to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. You're going to want to gently return all of the eggs to this tea solution and simmer for about 5 minutes. Once the timer's gone off, evacuate your eggs but reserve your liquid. 

Take a spoon and gently crack your egg shells, not enough to do anything other than break the surface. The more cracks you get, the deeper and more beautiful the marbling gets. Don't break them open, just crack! Pop these in to a plastic container of your choice that's tall and narrow, and add in your tea mixture. You want your eggs covered wholly. Let these bad boys hang out in the fridge for at least 24 hours before peeling and serving cold.

Protip - when you're ready to serve and peel, run the eggs under some warm water to let them be a little more flexible as they come away from the egg shell. You should also use a tea spoon and some gentle pressure to help you peel them!

Now, since you're still here, I'd like to briefly talk about what and why these spices work together.

The principle of Chinese cuisine that you should remember and keep in mind when trying to create it at home, is that you must have notes, in balance, of:
  • Sweet 
  • Sour 
  • Salty 
  • Bitter 
  • Pungent 
These flavor elements can be most-easily seen in what we call "Chinese Five-Spice". Of course, these correlate to the five elements, of water, earth, fire, wood, metal, but that's another post. The point is that you, too, can find the deliciousness of Chinese cuisine in your own kitchen by practicing these elements, and allowing them to be in harmony. 

Let's say you're making an egg salad sandwich, but want to give it just a little extra something. An egg is fatty and delicious, with a funny sort of 'funk' that's detectable in a cooked egg yolk, so I like a little extra sourness when enjoying them. It's no wonder that sour cream, cream cheese, or mayonnaise go great in an egg salad sandwich, but feel free to add a dash of lemon juice or vinegar if you like. Salty can be added with miso, soy sauce, or - of course - salt. Sweetness can be just a pinch of sugar. Bitterness can be found in citrus peel, specifically the white pith, and we mustn't forget our favorite free foraged green - the dandelion, chopped up fine. And pungency? Cardamom, fresh garlic, fresh mint - any of those can give a pungent flavor in a supremely delicious egg salad.

Learning these principles and finding ways to harness them is the mark of a good cook. I'm an eternal student, and am constantly curious as to how we can better learn to understand, manipulate, and just plain have fun with these flavors. I encourage you to use this time you have to breathe, practice self care, and explore a little out of your comfort zone. 





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Are you craving something new? 🤔 Of course you are; you're being a responsible person and quarantining yourself, leaving you cut off from the outside world. This means that now is the perfect time to flex those culinary muscles of yours. That is... If you're not sick of hard-boiled eggs after Easter. 🙈 . . Check out Marbled Tea Eggs, a delicious southern Chinese snack that you can make with a little patience! 🍵 I first made these in Culinary school and was immediately fascinated with them. I liked the idea so much that I took it into garde manger class and used some tea in with one of midterm exams. . . This tea time snack comes to you courtesy of my own experimentation, but with the inspiration of The First Grand Tea Time Gauntlet, which is a voting gauntlet to determine the best ever tea-time snacks, once and for all! The tea egg is not on there, but don't worry, I will be most likely exploring the tasty treats that ARE on there - because it's good to keep your skills sharp! . . Would you like to try this recipe? Link in bio! . . And be sure to check out @thegrandarbiter and @madameaskew on insta and Facebook. And if you're a local Kansas City person, like me, please head to @teamarketkc for your teas! . . #wannabgourmande #teaeggs #chinesefood #tea #antiques #teatime #snacks #foodphotography #foodiechats #whatchefseat #culinary #supportsmallbusiness #kansascity
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Happy cooking and happy eating!

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