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Egg Yolks: High and Heavenly
Summer Volume: 2016 Issue: 23(2)
More people are raising chickens for their eggs than ever before. Should you want to do so, check with your local health authorities to see how many live birds you can have on your property. There are rules about that and about their nests, tending these birds, and if you want to sell them. There are health considerations, tax liabilities, and other local and state rules in these regards, and in others. If only doing so for yourself and your family, you still need to know the regulations and adhere to them, how and when to wash them; and if immediately after collecting them is best or not, the best ways to store them, and other egg-specific information; you will be engaging in farming activities.
We have a son and a grandson; they live in two different states, and both raise poultry for pleasure. They do not sell them, they simply enjoy the rewards of tending and watching them, and of course of eating their eggs. One has chickens and quail, the other has chickens and ducks. One started with fertile eggs, the other with baby birds. The one with the eggs had purchased fertilized eggs; they kept them for weeks under warm lights until they hatched. The other purchased their chicks when tiny balls of fur. We have learned from both that all poultry has more eggs in warmer weather than is winter, and all birds lay best and most prolifically when the temperature is warmer and the days longer.
Baby chicks, ducks, and quail will have no eggs the first few months, six or so, and we have been told that their birds usually lay eggs for about three years. We were able to tell them that the color of the egg shells has to do with the breed, the color of the egg yolks is related to the feed. We have received some eggs from both, and the fresh eggs taste delicious; a lot better than those purchased in food markets.
One feeds them mostly kitchen scraps, the other purchases and feeds almost all commercial poultry feed. Both are successful, both of their eggs have good yolk color and great taste. Neither has requested recipes, Chinese or otherwise, though Flavor and Fortune has written about eggs long before they started these farming activities. You can find many articles about eggs, not theirs, and we do love this food item, in volumes 11(4), 13(1); 15(4); 16(2); 18(4); 19(4): and 22(1); and only recently have we been listing them, thanks to reader requests, as a separate category in our Index.
We are delighted when we are given these very fresh eggs and we do know that those sold in stores are often more than a week old, have thinner yolks, and we certainly can taste the differences. We use many eggs in Chinese and other cookery, and we like them for breakfast and in dishes in many other courses, Chinese-style and non-Chinese-style, we enjoy them many times a week. There is no question that fresh eggs taste better than store bought ones. We know of no health differences, but do know that all fresh food tastes better than foods not as fresh.
The Chinese use eggs from chickens and ducks most often, quails not as often, and eggs from other poultry are further down on their ‘use’ list. They use eggs whole, as yolks or as whites, and they like them fresher, too. They also like preserved eggs and we have written about tea eggs, about iron eggs, and also about ostrich eggs, and other eggs. They make eggs in all kinds of ways, and there are dozens of egg recipes in past issues including those where they are not a featured ingredient; and there are more of them in cookbooks and food magazines, and you may be aware that the USDA and the FDA have recently come out telling folks that they are better fir you than they used to admit; and that eating eggs does not raise one’s cholesterol level.
Some readers have asked for a random assortment of egg recipes in earlier issues. To find them is a cumbersome task. Is there is a reader would like to do that for themselves and for our readers? That would be most appreciative; and we will give them credit for so doing. In the meantime, here are a few newer egg recipes we hope you will enjoy.
8 to 12 chicken or duck, two dozen quail eggs
2 Tablespoons whole tea leaves
3 star anise
2 Tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 teaspoons salt
1. Cover the eggs with cold water in a sauce pot and simmer them for five minutes, then remove them from the pot, leave the liquid in it, and tap each egg gently all over to crack the shell in many places, then replace put then back in the pot.
2. Now with the eggs in the pot, add all the remaining ingredients and slowly bring them to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for fifteen minutes more, then remove them with a slotted spoon to a bowl and let them cool.
3. When ready to use them, peel the eggs and discard their shells. Serve them now, some like to cut them in half; or chill and serve them later.
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, separated as indicated below
4 Chinese black mushrooms, soaked in warm water for half hour, stems discarded, then minced
4 other fresh mushrooms, diced
4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons thin soy sauce
2 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder
½ teaspoon granulated sugar
10 chicken eggs or duck or quail eggs, as desired, beaten until light with ground pepper to taste Options can include seven chicken eggs and two duck eggs beaten together with some ground pepper to taste, or seven chicken eggs and six quail eggs also beaten together with some ground pepper to taste
½ pound shrimp, oysters, clams, and/or other seafood singly or any combination thereof
3 scallions, angle sliced thinly, half the green part set aside
1 Heat half the oil in a wok or skillet, and fry the black mushrooms for two minutes, then add the other mushrooms and stir-fry both for another minute or two. Then drain and remove to a bowl.
2. Mix cornstarch, soy sauce, chicken powder, sugar, and six tablespoons cold water in a small pot, bring to the boil, stir until thick, then set aside and stir periodically until needed.
3. Mix eggs, mushrooms, seafood, and most of the scallions but only half the green part.
4. Heat a six to eight-inch fry pan, add a teaspoon of the oil and when hot, stir the egg mixture then add a scant half cup of it into the pan. Do not stir when in the pan. Allow to set for two to three minutes then turn them over and cook the second side until set,. Now remove to a preheated platter and add two tablespoons sauce and some green scallion pieces on top.
5. Repeat until all eggs and sauce and green scallions are used. Take these omelets to the table and serve one per person on their individual pre-heated plates.
|Savory Egg Custard|
3 ounces chicken breast meat, diced
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
8 shrimp, shells and veins discarded
4 fresh Chinese black mushrooms, sliced
10 spinach leaves, cut in large pieces and blanched
1 large scallion, angle-sliced
2 cups chicken stock
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoon thin soy sauce
3 large eggs
1. Season the chicken pieces, and divide it into four batches.
2. Mix the shrimp, mushrooms, spinach leaves and the scallion, and add it to the four batches of diced chicken.
3. Add all the other ingredients and pour into one heat=proof container or individual heat-proof containers, cover them, and steam over boiling water from five to eight minutes, depending upon the container size, then serve.
|Beijing Egg Pancake|
2 beefsteak tomatoes, skins peeled and discarded
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon all purpose flour
2 Tablespoons water chestnut flour
4 or 5 eggs, beaten until light in color
salt and pepper, to taste
1. Coarsely chop the tomatoes.
2. Heat a wok or fry pan, add the oil, and when hot, add the garlic and stir-fry for one minute, then add the tomatoes and stir fry for two minutes before adding the sugar. Remove from the heat source, and drain the tomatoes.
3. Mix both flours with the beaten eggs, then stir in the drained tomatoes and reheat the wok or fry pan, and when hot add the egg mixture and the salt and pepper. Let them set in the pan, then turn this pancake over and let it set on the second side. Then remove to a platter, cut it in wedges, and serve immediately.
10 eggs, simmered in their shells for five minutes
oil for deep frying
5 scallions, angle-sliced thinly
1 to 2 Tablespoons thick soy or soy jam
1 Tablespoon oyster sauce
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1. Put oil into a wok or pot, heat to medium, they fry the scallions stirring, for three minutes, remove them and drain on paper towels.
2. Peel the eggs, then fry half of them for five minutes and remove to paper towels, then fry the other half for the same amount of time and put them on paper towels. Now move them to a serving platter, cut each egg in half, and put them cut side down on a pre-heated platter. Discard all but one tablespoon of the oil.
3. Put that oil back in a wok or fry pan, add the soy jam, oyster sauce, vinegar, and sugar and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for two minutes and mix well before pouring over the eggs. Then sprinkle the scallion pieces evenly on top of the fried egg halves. These eggs can be served with plain congee or any flavored one, or as is.
|Rice Congee with a Salty Duck Egg|
½ cup jasmine rice
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup thin soy sauce
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 salty duck egg hard cooked, peeled, and cut into eight pieces
2 scallions, angle-slice
1 red chili pepper, seeded and slivered
10 sprigs fresh coriander, stems saved for another purpose
1. Bring rice, oil, and salt to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for ninety minutes stirring often. This volume will be reduced by about half.
2. Set rest of the ingredients out for diners to help themselves or put one portion into each bowl of the hot congee.
Note: These amounts are for four diners, double for eight, etc.
½ pound young ginger, peeled, cut into large pieces, then smash each slice with the side of the cleaver
4 pounds pork hocks, have the butcher cut them into two-inch pieces
4 to 6 cups sweet Chinese black rice vinegar
1 cup regular Chinese black vinegar
8 hard-cooked eggs, chicken, duck, or both
½ to 1 cup steamed rice, per person
1. Fry the ginger in a dry wok or fry-pan for about twenty-five minutes, stirring often but not until brown or burned. Then remove and set it aside overnight covered.
2. Put half the sweet vinegar and all the black vinegar and the ginger in a pot with the pork hocks and simmer for ninety minutes. Then remove from the heat and allow to cool. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
3. Add the rest of the sweet vinegar to the pot, and simmer for two more hours, then add the eggs and simmer for another thirty minutes.
4. Serve to the pregnant woman one or two bowls at a time; or to all guests with steamed green vegetables, if desired, and the rice and the hocks and eggs and the liquid.