An Egg-ceptional amount of Umami

 

A quick post today about the powers of umami and why eggs are so awesome, or what I like to call the “damn yummy. Get in my Belly,” taste . According to Wikipedia, “A loanword from the Japanese (うま味?), umami is translated as “pleasant savory taste”” . Basically, Umami is why meat tastes so unctuous, fatty, and delicious. Or, why mushrooms taste so earthy and rich. It is a hard taste to describe. Take away sweet, salty (although salty and umami are usually paired), bitter, and sour: you will find the glory that is umami. I freaking love umami and I am a truffle-holic. If I lived in France and had a pig: hunting truffles would be my livelihood. Heck, I know that truffles grow in the pacific northwest but with my history I am more likely to find a piece of petrified cow dung and think it a truffle, than an actual truffle. I’ll explain in great detail about me accidentally ordering freeze-dried cow shit in a future post. It was hilarious… to my family..

One of my favorite recipes that revels in umami is Chinese Tea Eggs. Not only are they works of art when finished, they are delicious.  I was at the Local Lan Su Chinese Garden taking in all the beauty when I got the opportunity to try a dish of these.

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The Magnificent Koi Pond directly outside the tea house.
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The pathway leading into the tea-house

They are rather difficult to procure in Americanized Chinese restaurants. I have only seen them offered once and that was at the tea house at Lan Su.  If you don’t try the eggs, the tea house and garden are reason enough to visit. Nestled in downtown Portland, upon entry you are transported to what seems like a cloud of serenity and balance. Outside is the hustle and bustle of bike messengers going upon their daily errands, and trains and/or buses taking the hurried passengers to their next stop. But inside, the walls keep out the sound and the glorious tea and eggs make it feel like you can breathe again. I kid you not. It is transportative.

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I wasn’t kidding when I said they look like little works of art or a petrified dinosaur egg. Either works.

However if you are not one to try making your own, a daily staple of mine that is both keto and delicious is hard-boiled eggs drenched in soy sauce and sesame oil.  Amazing when you need something delicious to dance on your tongue and a nice jump from having scrambled eggs or egg salad all the time. I suggest serving them with a side of bacon, because everything tastes better with the noble swine.

The recipe that I have used in the past to make the traditional eggs is found at Saveur,  Chinese Tea Eggs (CHA YE DAN).

Chinese Tea Eggs (Cha Ye Dan)

Ingredients

12 cup soy sauce
12 cup sugar
12 tsp. whole black peppercorns
12 tsp. fennel seeds
8 whole cloves
2 whole star anise
2 sticks cinnamon
1 tbsp. loose-leaf smoked tea, such as lapsang souchong  (available from Amazon)
8 eggs

Instructions

Bring soy sauce, sugar, peppercorns, fennel, cloves, star anise, cinnamon, and 2 cups water to a boil in a 2-qt. saucepan; remove from heat and add tea. Let steep for 10 minutes. Pour marinade through a fine strainer into a bowl and keep warm. Place eggs in a 4-qt. saucepan; cover by 12″ with cold water. Place saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil; cover pan, remove from heat, and let sit until eggs are soft-boiled, about 5 minutes. Drain eggs. Crack shells all over but do not peel eggs; return to saucepan along with marinade. Bring to a boil and let cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add 2 cups ice. Let cool in marinade before serving.

Life list item achieved – Made a Chinese tea egg.

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