Yesterday I went down to Wuhe, an area near the Bao’An district in the city of Shenzhen. Wuhe is a cool place, there are a lot of street food and restaurants there and the area has a very homey feeling to it. Instead of opting for ultra-cheap street food which I have done in the last couple articles, I thought we would kick it up a notch and go to more of a full service Guangdong restaurant. This was nothing fancy by any means but we had a number of dishes and the total bill was still only 57 RMB (A little less than $10 USD)
While looking at the menu, my girlfriend propositioned me and told me that I should try a century old egg, also known as a pi dan, 皮蛋. I was very intimidated and worried that the food was unsafe to consume. After doing relatively thorough research on whether the food was safe to eat, I discovered that despite its various nicknames, it is not actually one hundred or a thousand years old. The eggs are preserved and fermented using ingredients such as wood and ash for weeks, or months. After confirming that the food was “perfectly safe” to eat, we decided to order that and some other dishes as well. Here is the picture of the entire, modest meal.
So let me describe the rest of the dishes for you. On the far right is zhu rou zheng mi fen, 豬肉蒸米粉, which is a steamed rice noodle dish with pork covering the top. Directly next to that is jian jiao (煎餃子) also known as fried dumplings. These particular dumplings were filled with mushrooms and pork. In the smaller dish to the left of the jian jiao is the pi dan (The century old egg I was just talking about) and above that dish is tang cu yu kuai (糖醋魚塊) which is fried and battered fish covered in a sweet and sour sauce. Not pictured here is ji zhua, also known as chicken feet (鸡爪) as the waitress was taking a long time and hadn’t served that dish yet. I guess I forgot to capture the picture when it finally did come. Oh well. However, you can definitely see it in the new video I just uploaded to my YouTube channel talking about this very lunch! Check it out here:
The steamed pork noodles were good – the noodles were sort of chewy and the meat was nice and fatty. No complex flavors, but it’s also not a very complex dish. The fried dumplings were great, as they always are, and I love how when dumplings are fried, though it isn’t good for you, it always makes the outer part of the dumpling nice and crispy. Coupled with that lajiao that had vinegar in it turned it into a wonderful, sour yet spicy flavor. I am not a huge fan of chicken feet because of the bones but this chicken feet was very good. It was also covered in pickled peppercinis, a feature I really enjoyed. The fish was the only lacking dish out of the rest. The fish was full of bones when they told us there weren’t any (Pretty typical in China, though) the fish wasn’t crispy at all, and honestly didn’t have that much flavor. It wasn’t terrible, but not very good. And finally, the moment of truth came when I would sample my first pi dan, the century old egg!
I was more nervous than anything to take my first bite of this aged egg. I felt better when I learned that it is not actually years old but only weeks to months. When I took my first bite (Video linked to my YouTube channel!) I was pleasantly surprised. What I tasted was much more pleasant than I had ever believed it would be. It tastes a lot like a salted duck egg but (Thankfully) not nearly as salty. I also noticed it had a very creamy texture, that is actually very delicious. It sits in a broth with soy sauce and vinegar and is covered in diced red chiles, and sliced green onions. The sauce gives quite a bite to the egg overall. In conclusion, I was very surprised that I didn’t wince at the first bite!
That’s all for today, but I’d also like to leave you with Episode 4 of my cooking show, The Laowai Chef. On episode 4 I made some Mexican food, Steak Nachos with Guacamole. Check it out!