Birds 28: Chicken Eggs (雞蛋)

“Break the chicken eggs into a bowl and beat it with chopsticks a thousand times, then steam them until tender. Eggs immediately becomes old and tough when cooked, but with prolonged and continuous cooking they become tender again. Those with tea leaves should be cooked for a period of two sticks of incense. To cook a hundred eggs, use two liang of salt. For fifty eggs use five qian. One can also braise them with soy sauce. Other methods of preparation include pan-frying and stir-frying. Eggs steamed with shredded finch is also excellent.”

雞蛋
雞蛋去殼放碗中,將竹箸打一千回蒸之,絕嫩。凡蛋一煮而老,一千煮而反嫩。加茶葉煮者,以兩炷香為度。蛋一百,用鹽一兩;五十,用鹽五錢。加醬煨亦可。其他則或煎或炒俱可。斬碎黃雀蒸之亦佳。

egg_colours
Egg x 3 (Credit: Timothy Titus)

Over and over again, we see Yuan Mei’s standard for “tender” is quite different from our present standards. To me, an egg done over-easy or even a hardboiled egg can scarcely be call tough. That is, unless you’re lacking teeth, which may or may not be the case with our esteemed scholar.
As for this section, it briefly describes six ways of preparing eggs, namely: steamed, boiled with salt, braised in soy sauce, pan-fried, stir-fried, and finally steamed with a species of finch known as the Eurasian siskin (Spinus spinus). All in all, pretty standard stuff for cooking eggs in Chinese cuisine, with the more unusual one being last method, which uses a very cute but also apparently very tasty ingredient.

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