Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again. Which is no frickin’ surprise really, given that horses don’t have opposable thumbs.
Luckily for Raffles, who also had a great fall over the weekend, we didn’t rely on the assistance of equine medics and instead took our chances with the awesome nurses and doctors at RNSH, who not only had opposable thumbs but did a bang up job of putting my seriously concussed little man back together again. And happily, after one of the scariest days of my parenting life, he is now back to his cheeky food-obsessed self.
In fact, the first thing he did when we exited the hospital was ask me if we could make something new and different to eat.
Prepared, after our distressing day, to make him a Soufflé from the finest Piedmont truffles with a side of Maine Lobster sautéed in hundred-year-old Louis XIII cognac and topped with Beluga Caviar and edible gold, if he so desired, I asked him exactly what epicurean extravaganza he had in mind?
“Tea Eggs, mama! Like the ones you had in Taiwan!”
That’s it? Tea Eggs?
“Yep, because their heads are all cracked too!”
Seriously, could this delicious little man be any yummier? Cracking jokes after cracking his scone!
In Taiwan, it’s hard to escape the ubiquitous marbled eggs. Indeed, Tea Eggs (Cha ye dan), are so popular you’ll even find them they bobbing in a dark broth, nestled between the Hichew candies, chocolate bars and magazines at any of the literally thousands of 7 Elevens that litter the country.
The convenience stores, like the eggs, are inescapable. But unlike our 7 Elevens, they are much more than a snack and mag stop. You’ll not only find Tea Eggs, but hot treats like fish balls, pig’s blood cakes, dumplings and tofu, rocking the counter right next to the hot dogs.
Jelly drinks sit alongside cans of coke and bags of dried seaweed and little fish alongside potato chips. They also do laundry. Gas bill due? Just head to 7 Eleven. And if you’ve copped a traffic fine, you can pay that there too. But I digress, back to the eggs.
Tea Eggs, unlike the also popular Thousand Year Eggs, are not and never have been made by being soaked in horse urine. No, these little babies are instead soaked in a tasty bath of tea, soy and spices. And the prettily marbled end product is delicious, the spiced bath adding a slightly salty tone to the white and the tea bringing out the flavour of the yolk.
Best of all they are so easy to make, my little wounded soldier can help me make them while he recovers from his head banging misadventure.
And I feel much better about him cracking some eggs instead of that lovely noggin’ of his.
The key, so I was told, to good Tea Eggs lies in the quality of the tea, even though it’s not the predominant flavour of the finished product. I’m using some lovely smoky Oolong tea leaves I picked up in Taipei. Mixed with the soy sauce and spices used for making tea eggs, it’s added a lovely depth of flavour to the finished eggs.
Raffles and Sugarpuff are happily scoffing them, warm with a touch of soy sauce, as I type. In fact, Raffles likes them so much he’s just put in a request for me to make Thousand Year Eggs next. But that is never gonna happen, and anyway I’m all out of horse wee.
Tea Eggs (Cha ye dan)
3 cups water
2 tbsp of oolong tea leaves
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp dark soy
3 star anise
1 small stick cinnamon
1 teaspoon lightly cracked peppercorns
3 small strips of orange rind
1 pinch salt
- Place eggs in a saucepan with one teaspoon and cover with cold water. Bring to boil then reduce heat and let simmer for ten minutes to make sure they are cooked through.
- Remove eggs from hot water and rinse under cold water.
- Using the back of a teaspoon tap the eggshell and crack all over. Do not remove shell.
- In a saucepan combine three cups of water with soy sauce, tea leaves and other dry ingredients and bring to boil.
- Lower heat and gently add cracked eggs and simmer for two to three hours.
- Serve immediately warm or leave the eggs in the mixture overnight for added colour and flavour.
- Tripping the light fanplastic – Barbie Cafe, Taipei (boyeatsworld.com.au)
- Tasting Taiwan (boyeatsworld.com.au)
- Tofu, or not tofu (boyeatsworld.com.au)