Last year, my Facebook friend sent me a video from the 1950’s. Women were getting spa treatments — all-natural beauty treatments from around the world. The beauty secret from Singapore intrigued me the most. It was a mixture to eliminate red skin on hands and face with century eggs, ground rice powder, and magnesium. As I listened, I thought, hmmm, probiotics, healthy fat, detox antioxidants, B vitamins, magnesium — wow, what a combination! And I had to learn more about century eggs.
Dating back about 500 years to the Ming Dynasty, these eggs were believed to have been discovered by accident (like many favorite recipes!) by a farmer. Called one-hundred-year-old eggs, thousand-year-old eggs, and century eggs, they are best known in China and Southeast Asia.
And guess what? It’s a fermented food! The eggs are essentially cured with a mixture of salt, lime, and ash, and wrapped in rice husks for a few weeks. Now you’ve got a probiotic food that supports microbiome health.
In the curing process, the egg white turns a kind of transparent jelly black and the yolk turns green. Very odd if you’ve never seen it before, and kinda cool, all at the same time.
Would You Try It?
I wasn’t sure how I’d feel, but since I’m a big fan of Anthony Bourdain and I am visiting Chiang Mai, Thailand (where he ate a lot of adventurous food in his show, No Reservations), I decided to give it a go in his memory.
Along with a Northern Thai favorite of mine, khao soi (a curried chicken soup), I ordered the century egg salad. It was delicious! A little soy sauce, several fresh onion slices, some sliced green chilies and I loved it! Yes, it was weird. It was like eating, well, a hard-boiled egg. Except it was more sulfur-y, which was the weird bit.
I had heard that eating it as a salad in this way was a gentle introduction to the taste if you’re new to it and I’d have to agree. I ate the whole salad. Since I’m sometimes sensitive to thiols, a compound in eggs, onions and several other healthy natural foods, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel afterward. The end result was that I felt great. I truly believe our indigenous ancestors knew something about the alchemy of food, about food preparation, and about digestion that we have lost today.
If you’re adventurous with food and want to try another type of fermented food or if you want to make an awesome mask for your hands and face, check out the century eggs! I’ll see if I can come up with a recipe for the skin mask because now I want to try it too…just like those women from the 50’s!
If you want to dip your toe in with cured eggs, but aren’t ready to try the century eggs, how about cured egg yolks?
Here’s a recipe on Splendid Table for salt-cured eggs that looks amazing!
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