Easy Party Appetizer – Good Old Tea Leaf Eggs
Visiting Ilana yesterday, bringing a little box of belated pepparkakor chickens and some apples, not expecting anything in return but there was a carton of beautiful eggs. (Spring is supposed to mark the resumption of egg season – see Easter – but Ilana says her hens are already cranking up.)
Mentioned in thanking that I was going to a New Year’s party and might be asked to bring appetizers, in which case I’d make my gift into tea leaf eggs.
Turned out that this caterer’s warhorse, deliciously smoky, beautifully marbled and remarkably easy to make was news to her, so I promised the recipe and here it is:
TEA LEAF EGGS
(Allow at least 24 hours to marinate. They’ll keep in the liquid for a week or so)
Eggs that are at least 10 days old, so they’ll be easy to peel – Ilana ordered me to come back for old ones if was on appetizer duty which it turns out I’m not.
For each dozen large ones:
1/4 c. loose Lapsang Souchong tea leaves
4 whole star anise
½ c. tamari
2 -3 tbl. wasabi powder
½ – 2/3 c. Hellman’s mayonnaise (homemade is not better)
1. Hard-cook the eggs. Drain and cover with cold water right away.
2. While the eggs are cooking, put the tea, anise and tamari in a deep saucepan. Pour on 6 c. boiling water and set aside.
3. As soon as the eggs are cool enough to handle, roll each firmly on a hard surface or tap all over with a spoon back – the object is to create lots of small cracks in the shell and underlying membrane without breaking the egg itself.
4. Put the cracked eggs in the tea mixture, bring just to a simmer, then cook partially covered over very low heat for about 2.5 hours.
5. Transfer eggs to a deep, narrow bowl and strain the liquid over them. They should all be covered. If they aren’t find a narrower bowl or switch to canning jars. Refrigerate at least a day, up to a week, and peel shortly before serving.
Finishing: Mix the wasabi with an equal quantity of water. Let it sit about 10 minutes then stir in the mayo. Use as a dip if the eggs are large, combine it with the mashed yolks and pipe it back in, devilled egg fashion, if the eggs are small enough to be attractive served that way.
Note: The eggs in the photos are duck eggs. Delicious but less beautiful than chicken because the inner membrane is too tough to crack as thoroughly as would be nice.