Three-Color Steamed Eggs

July  2, 2023
0 Ratings
Photo by Jun
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 2-3
Author Notes

As eaters, you might have heard of Chinese century eggs and salted eggs, but the dishes they are used in and the ways to use them aren’t as widely talked about. So here’s an easy dish that shows off both these Asian preserved eggs!

Just in case you’re not privy to them, salted eggs are eggs that are soaked in brine or coated in a salted clay mixture for a few weeks until salty and the yolks turn firm. Century eggs, on the other hand, are eggs coated in an alkaline paste, over time — weeks, not a century, contrary to its namesake — turning the egg whites into an amber-like jelly and the yolks into creamy and ash-green.

Across the Chinese culinary canon, both salted eggs and century eggs are used in a variety of stir-fries, cooked into congee, and sometimes even served as table condiments to lend pops of flavor to any dish. To me though, there’s no simpler dish that harnesses the funky wonder of these alternative eggs than in three-color steamed eggs.

Also called 三色蒸水蛋 (sān sè zhēng shuǐ dàn), 三色蛋 (sān sè dàn) or 三黃蛋 (sam wong dan in Cantonese), it’s a dish cooked by restaurant chefs and homecooks in equal measure. To make it, pieces of salted egg yolk and century eggs are first sliced into little Skittles-sized chunks and evenly spread onto a deep, flat-bottomed plate. A couple of beaten eggs — regular eggs this time — are then poured over the dish and the whole thing is steamed. After a quick 10 minutes, it’ll set into this jiggly egg custard, studded with funky bits of salted egg yolk and century egg, giving it three distinct colors of eggs! And as a final flourish, the dish is typically topped with a smattering of sliced scallions, fried shallot, soy sauce, and sesame oil.

It’s a simple, unfussy dish to make. The (regular) egg custard alone tastes just as good as any silky-smooth chawanmushi or steamed egg, but with the funky bits of salted egg and century egg in the mix, the dish ends up having a surprising dose of character and spunk! —Jun

What You'll Need
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Chinese salted egg
  • 1/2 century egg
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) water
  • 2 teaspoons (10ml) light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon (5ml) sesame oil
  • 1 stalk scallion, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons fried shallots, store bought (or 1 shallot, sliced thin and fried in 320°F oil until golden brown)
  1. Crack the regular eggs in a bowl and whisk until even. Then, crack open the salted egg, separating the yolk and white. Combine the salted egg white with the beaten regular eggs. Add water to the bowl, and whisk everything to combine.
  2. Cut the salted egg yolk into 10-15 pieces. Peel the century egg and cut it into pieces too. (You should be able to get 15-20 pieces that are slightly larger than the salted egg yolk chunks.)
  3. Arrange the salted egg yolk and century egg pieces in a 8-10-inch, deep-rimmed plate. Then, pour the beaten eggs through a sieve into the plate, making sure the eggs spread across the whole plate.
  4. Set up a steamer by bringing a pot of water to a bowl, then setting your steamer basket on top. Place the plate with the eggs into the steamer basket, cover it but leave a slight gap in the cover, and steam for 10-12 minutes, until the eggs are set.
  5. When done, take the plate out of the steamer. (Careful, it’s hot!) Drizzle light soy sauce and sesame oil all over the eggs, garnish with fried shallots and scallions, and eat! It goes super well as part of a spread with rice and other dishes.

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