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Tea Egg Salad Toasts

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.

Steps

Serves

2

Total Time

15 min

Active Time

15 min

Egg Salad


  1. Toast the bread until super-crispy, so it stays crunchy when topped with the egg salad. If you’re using a toaster oven, flip the toast halfway through so it gets dark on both sides.
  2. While the bread is toasting, cut the tea eggs into small pieces with a knife, then mash slightly with a fork. You want roughly 1/4” cubes, though don’t sweat this too much. Mix with 1 tbsp Kewpie mayo, lemon juice, and pepper. Adjust seasoning to taste, adding more mayo if you’d like a creamier salad.
  3. As soon as the toast is done, top each slice with half of the egg salad and cut in half on the diagonal. Garnish with the sliced chives and serve immediately.

Cold-Steeped Oolong Tea Eggs

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!

Steps

Makes

4 eggs

Total Time

7 hours

Active Time

1 hour

Tea eggs

(adapted from Get Cracking)


  1. Prepare a bowl of ice water and set it aside. Fill a saucepan with enough water to cover your eggs and bring it to a boil. Gently add the eggs, being careful not to crack the shells. 
  2. Lower the heat to a simmer and set a timer for your desired level of doneness: 6 minutes for soft-boiled, 8 for medium, and 11 for hard. As soon as the timer rings, use a slotted spoon or spider to transfer the eggs to the ice bath. 
  3. While the eggs are cooling, empty and rinse out the saucepan. Return the pan to the stove and add the water, soy sauce, oolong, star anise, salt, and sugar. Simmer for 15 minutes over medium-low heat, then allow to cool to room temperature.
  4. Strain the tea mixture into a medium-sized tupperware or ziploc bag nestled in a bowl. If you’d like to create the traditional marbled pattern, crack the shells of the eggs all over with the back of a spoon (no need to go too crazy here–not breaking the eggs is priority #1!). Otherwise, simply peel the eggs under cool running water.
  5. Transfer the eggs to the tea mixture and cold-steep for at least 6 hours and up to 3 days, turning the eggs occasionally with a spoon to ensure even coloration.

Stir-Fried Eggplant with Three Misos (Nasu Dengaku)

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.

Steps

Serves

2

Total Time

20 min

Active Time

1 hour

Eggplant

(adapted from Breath of a Wok)


  1. For each miso sauce, mix all the ingredients in a small bowl and adjust seasonings to taste.
  2. Using a sharp knife, cut the eggplant on an angle into approximately 1cm slices.
  3. Heat a wok over high heat until a drop of water vaporizes instantly upon contact. Swirl in the oil, add the chopped garlic, and stir-fry for a few seconds, until the garlic turns fragrant and aromatic.
  4. Add the eggplant and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes, until the flesh of the eggplant has absorbed the oil and turned beige.
  5. Swirl in the mirin, reduce the heat to medium, and cover the wok for 30 seconds to allow the eggplant to steam slightly.
  6. Uncover the wok, sprinkle on the sugar, and swirl in the soy sauce. Stir-fry for another minute or two, or until the eggplant can easily be pierced with a knife.
  7. Transfer to a plate, sprinkle with chopped scallions, and serve with dollops of miso sauce.

Chinese Cucumber Salad

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.

Steps

Serves

1-2

Total Time

20 minutes

Active Time

10 minutes

  1. 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.
  2. Toss the cucumber with salt and chill in the fridge for 10-15 minutes to draw out excess water.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.