First, the eggs, all washed. I picked 8 for good luck. Boil them well and remember to let them cool down a bit before proceeding to crack the shells. I normally hold the egg with one spoon and smash the shell with another spoon.
I normally use “raw” spices, but this time, for convenience, I’m using five spice powder. High quality Tie Guan Yin 铁观音 tea leaves to go along. 川芎 is the secret ingredient that gives the eggs their enticing aroma. You can get this highly aromatic (some say pungent) root from some Chinese medical shops. It’s a shame that you won’t find it at most places that only deal with bird’s nest, ginseng and other expensive herbs. Just add the herb and spices to the water and heat up once again.
Soy sauce (light) is added once the mixture boils. Remember from the videos you’ve watched that you need a pretty salty broth. Be generous with your soy sauce.
I normally cook it on the evening and let the eggs sit in the broth overnight. You really need to soak them well so the flavours will penetrate the shell.
So what’s the purpose of the shell? Why not just peel off the shell and cook the egg “naked”. Of course you can do that, but the shell somehow locks in certain flavours which will be lost if peeled off. It also preserves the nice, smooth texture of the cooked egg white.
As you can see from the nice pattern of the crack lines on the egg white, aesthetics would be another reason to keeping the shells on while cooking.
© Chan Joon Yee