糖心蛋 (tang xin dan) Sugar Heart Eggs are are similar to 茶葉蛋 (cha ye dan) tea eggs or 滷蛋 (lu dan) braised eggs. Except with Sugar Heart Eggs the eggs are not boiled until they are completely solid. Giving them an exceptional texture.
I first came across an egg prepared in this way at a sort of famous noodle shop in Taitung called 海草 (HaiCao, ‘Seaweed’ literally) that I frequented. Well I sort of frequented, often it was too busy to get in and we had to go eat elsewhere. At this noodle shop there was a cooler with a variety of cold side dishes, one of which were these little plates of eggs split in half. They were called 不老蛋 (bu lao dan or literally ‘not old eggs’), but I don’t remember knowing the name at the time. Luckily I didn’t have to order them by name.
The centers of these eggs were a beautiful bright orange, being cooked just to the point of gelling. Every egg they made had a perfect yolk (something I find even more impressive after trying to duplicate the results, it might help that they use duck eggs which are bigger). The eggs looked amazing, and the slightly aromatic flavor was wonderful. They quickly became one of my favorite sides.
Upon returning to the States I set out on making my own version. Armed with a Taiwanese cookbook (and quite a few eggs) I have more or less got the hang of something similar. Though I have yet to master the art of making a perfect egg every time, one that is boiled just to the cusp between soft and medium boiled. I often seem to go just a bit too long and end up in the medium boiled range. Which still has a good flavor and texture, but lacks the impressiveness of a gel center. That being said, my method for boiling he eggs to bring the eggs just to a boil, turn off the heat, cover them and let them set for 6-7 minutes. Then I dunk them in ice water to stop the cooking. For a good, extensive overview of the ins and outs of egg boiling I suggest you go here.
- 10-12 medium boiled eggs, peeled
- 2 small red chili peppers fresh or dried
- 3/4 c. soy sauce
- 1 T. sugar
- 2 1/2 c. water
- 1 spice mix, (recipe below)
- 3 star anise (八角 ba jiao)
- 4 g. (~a couple pieces) dried orange peel (陳皮 chen pi)
- 4 g. (~1 T.)sichuan peppercorns (花椒 hua jiao)
- 1-2 piece/s of licorice root (甘草 gan cao)
- 4 g. (~2 t.) of whole cloves (丁香 ding xiang)
- 12 g. (~5 t.) fennel seeds (小茴香 xiao hui xiang)
- 1 stick of cinnamon (桂皮 gui pi)
- Mix together the water, soy sauce, sugar, chili peppers, and spice mix. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool, strain the liquid into a bowl.
- Place the peeled, medium boiled eggs in the liquid. Put in the fridge and let soak for 1 to 2 days. Slice in half and serve.
If you are really interested you can see how HaiCao makes 不老蛋 (Bu Lao Dan) in these videos (it may help if you understand Taiyu or read Chinese).