Take your egg salad game up a notch with flavor-packed tea eggs.
It may not be the most glamorous lunch item, but I’ve always been fond of the humble egg salad. I’m also an unabashed tea fanatic, so when I saw tea egg salad sandwiches on a menu at a teahouse in New York, I’ll admit to being a bit embarrassingly mindblown. Sadly, the real deal proved excessively mayo-y, with little to no tea flavor. When the “Hot and Cold” theme came up in 52 Weeks of Cooking (a fun way to explore cooking things that aren’t part of your normal repertoire), I saw the perfect opportunity to reprise this dish. My version uses homemade Oolong tea eggs, just a touch of super-eggy Japanese Kewpie mayo and comes atop slices of crispy toast for textural contrast.
- 4 medium or hard-boiled tea eggs
- 1-2 tbsp Kewpie mayo
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 2 slices whole grain bread
- 1 tsp chives, thinly sliced
Whether you like your eggs soft, medium, or hard-boiled, this recipe will infuse them with the addictive flavor of oolong.
As a self-proclaimed tea nut, I have a love-hate relationship with tea eggs. Traditionally, the eggs are hard-boiled, gently cracked all over, and simmered in a broth of black tea, soy sauce, and spices, which produces a pretty marbled pattern. That long simmer infuses the eggs with wonderful flavor, but it also comes with a downside: hard, rubbery whites and crumbly, green-tinged yolks. Blech.
When I had first my ramen egg, it was a revelation. All that flavor, with a beautiful melty yolk! It was only a matter of time before I decided to apply the same treatment to tea eggs. By cold-steeping the eggs, you can cook them to your desired level of doneness. They’re great soft-boiled, of course, but if you’re looking to make tea egg salad (my initial inspiration for this dish), a medium or hard boil will do nicely. To maximize the flavor infusion, I skipped the traditional marbling, but I’ve included instructions for both options.
Another fun part of making tea eggs at home is that you can change up the tea and spices. I love the smooth flavor that Dong Ding oolong lends to this tea, but don’t hesitate to experiment a bit here. You can go with a classic black tea, or if you’re feeling adventurous, try a lapsang souchong for some smokiness. Follow your taste buds, and let me know what your favorite combinations are!
- 4 large eggs
- 2 cups water
- 4 tbsp (60 mL) soy sauce
- 2 tbsp (15g) Oolong tea leaves (I used Taiwanese Dong Ding)
- 5 star anise
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
Hatcho, awase, and saikyo miso sauces jazz up juicy stir-fried eggplant. Make just one, or make all three–it’s up to you!
Are there any foods you hated as a kid that as an adult, you’ve come to love? To me, the ultimate example of this is eggplant. When I was little, the very word conjured an image of a soggy, unappetizing mess, complete with my mom’s nagging exhortations of “but it’s so good for you!” I can’t pinpoint when exactly that changed, but I can tell you why. Unlike the bulbous eggplants I grew up with, properly cooked Asian eggplant is juicy, tender, and deliciously savory. If you think you hate eggplant and you haven’t tried it fried in a generous amount of oil, you might just change your mind.
Onto the recipe. This dish is inspired by Sakagura, a surprisingly hip restaurant located in the basement of a nondescript office building in Midtown NYC. Sakagura stands out against New York’s endless landscape of ramen and sushi joints not only for its namesake sake bar, but for its mouthwatering selection of the fried, grilled, stewed, and steamed delights that too often go overlooked on Japanese menus. Of the many dishes we tried, my favorite was the seemingly humble nasu dengaku: tender-grilled Japanese eggplant served with a trio of miso sauces.
As it happens, my fridge also contains a trio of misos: hearty hatcho (made from pure soybeans), sweet saikyo (a delicate white with lower salt content), and all-purpose awase (a widely applicable blend of red and white). Rooftop grilling is out of the question during the frosty NYC winter, so I decided to create my own spin on Sakagura’s dish using my beloved wok. Phil and I were split on our favorite of the three sauces, so if you give it a shot, let us know which one tickled your taste buds.
- 2 medium (300g) Asian eggplants
- 2 tbsp scallions (green part only), finely chopped
- 3 tbsp oil for frying, such as peanut, avocado, or canola
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp mirin
- 1/4 tsp sugar
Hatcho miso sauce
- 1 tbsp hatcho miso
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp mirin
- 1/2 tbsp dashi
- 1/4 tsp lime zest (from about 1/2 lime)
Awase miso sauce
- 1 tbsp awase (or red) miso
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp mirin
- 2 tsp dashi
- 1 tsp roasted white sesame seeds
Saikyo miso sauce
- 1 tbsp saikyo (sweet white) miso
- 1/4 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp mirin
- 1/2 tsp yuzu extract
This cucumber salad blends together common Chinese flavors into a delicious and refreshing side.
This refreshing Sichuanese dish balances richer, heavier courses and provides great textural contrast to otherwise texturally-dull dishes, making it one of my favorite appetizers.
Given how easy it is to prepare, ordering cucumber salad at restaurants can sometimes feels like highway robbery. I often find myself fighting my deeply-ingrained “get your money’s worth” attitude when I see the prices that some restaurants charge for this dish. At home, I have no such reservations. Whether you prefer a light slick of dressing or a complete drenching, the simplicity of the preparation lets you tweak the flavors to your taste at a low cost.
Regardless of your particular palate, the staples of a decently stocked Chinese kitchen–soy sauce, sesame oil, and black vinegar–come together with the garlic and sugar to make a surprisingly nuanced and unsurprisingly delicious vinaigrette for the cool, crisp smashed cucumbers.
- 1 English or 2-3 Persian cucumbers
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp Chinese light soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tbsp Chinese black vinegar, such as Chinkiang
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp chili flakes (optional)
- 1 tsp toasted white sesame seeds (optional)
- Wash cucumbers and pat dry. Cut cucumber into manageable lengths for smashing (roughly 3-4 inches). Smash the cucumbers by placing them in a ziploc bag to contain the juices, then pressing into them with either a rolling pin or a large flat cleaver. Then, cut the smashed cucumber into bite-sized pieces.
- Toss the cucumber with salt and chill in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to draw out excess water.
- While the cucumber is resting, prepare the dressing. Heat up the sesame oil and fry the garlic until just lightly browned. Combine the fried sesame oil and garlic, soy sauce, and black vinegar to taste. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Play around with the ratios to get a flavor you enjoy; whether it’s lighter or more vinegary, there’s room to experiment.
- Toss the cucumber with the dressing until each piece is evenly coasted. Garnish with chili flakes and toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately or keep in the fridge for up to a day for stronger flavors.