The weather man on tele just said this Easter is the coldest ever in record ! As I looked at my garden, it is still covered by snow from last weekend! OK, I should accept the fact and do something to cheer myself up…obviously not gardening…so what can I do? Ah, cooking!
In China we don’t celebrate Easter , but since I came to living in the UK I have realised why chocolates are made into egg shapes So I decided to bring in some Chinese elements and this is it: classic Chinese egg recipe with a special decoration to celebrate the Easter!
China is famous of its tea culture and there are absolutely loads of tea varieties. We have also been cooking with tea for hundreds of years. Every year when the winter comes, a special warm and spicy smell will start to spread in the back streets. If you can find where it is from, you often see a old lady sitting by a giant casserole selling boiled eggs, in the special red tea flavoured sauce. Most of the Chinese love this snack and lot of them can’t help to stop and buy one!
Recently this ancient recipe had a big modernisation. It soon spreads out on the Chinese internet: using herb leafs to decorate the eggs! As soon as I saw the method I knew that I have to try it out! And today is a good day, one day before Easter in a cold spring, do a little adventure in my kitchen and cheer up by the warm smells!
Egg: as many as you want, recommend 4-6 for this recipe
Red tea bag: 1
Rock sugar (or white sugar): 10g
Dark soy sauce: 15ml or 2 table spoons
Star anise: 2
Herb leafs: 1 for each egg, I used parsley in this recipe
Unwanted CLEAN stockings: 1-2, also can use muslin instead
1. Prepare all the spices (tea bag, sugar, star anise, dark soy sauce and salt), put them in a pot and and add about 500ml water (the amount of water is not strict, just make sure all the eggs will be covered later).
2. Choose some fresh herbs as you like, soak the leafs in hot water until they are soft. I used parleys because their leafs have nice curly edges, and also the size of the leafs matches the size of the eggs very well. Others like coriander and mint can be also good choices.
3. Boil some eggs (5 minutes in boiling water) and peel the shells off. I did three because they were all I could find in my kitchen! Gently stick the herbs on each egg. I did this in a bowl of water as I found it’s easier to spread the leaf to make a nice shape on the egg.
4. Now the fun bit. Cut the stockings into proper sizes for holding an egg, about 15cm. Place one egg in each piece and make a knot on each side to lock the egg in (shown as in Picture 4).
5. Put all the eggy parcels in the spice pot and boil for ten minutes. The air will be full of the smell of tea and star anises! Switch the fire off and leave the eggs to soak for another 2-3 hours (don’t leave it too long as the leafs will get too weak to keep a sharp edge of their print). Open the parcel and enjoy your artwork!
It is the first time I tried the herb decoration. Traditionally we cook the eggs with shells on, crack them by a spoon and soak for several hours. Peel the shells and the eggs will have marble patterns on them. It’s good to serve with salads either cold or warm.