When my mom saw some youtiao (Cantonese; also known as Chinese donut or Chinese crueller) at Sun Sing Pastry yesterday, a light bulb hovered over her head. She wanted to make jook (Cantonese; aka congee or rice porridge). We even stopped by a market to get some preserved egg for the jook, on our way out of Oakland Chinatown!
My mom made jook this morning, which I had for breakfast before heading out to work. There was some left over when I came back home, so I had it again for dinner. Yumm… :)
The jook my mom made had pork, preserved egg, youtiao, ginger, and green onion.
Congee or conjee is a type of rice porridge or gruel popular in many Asian countries. When eaten as plain rice congee, it is most often served with side dishes. When additional ingredients, such as meat, fish, and flavorings, are added while preparing the congee, it is most often served as a meal on its own, especially when one is ill. Names for congee are as varied as the style of its preparation. Despite its many variations, it is definitionally a thick porridge of rice largely disintegrated after prolonged cooking in water. (Wikipedia)
There is an interesting tale about the origins of youtaio, a popular Chinese snack – translated from Cantonese,‘yao char kwai’ , literally means deep-fried ghosts! There was a very famous and valiant general during the Song Dynasty by the name of Yue Fei (岳飛) and as with a lot of righteous heros, his was a tragic story. His demise was brought about by an evil Chinese court official by the name of Qin Hui who created a plot together with his evil wife and manipulated the weak Chinese emperor into ordering the wrongful execution of General Yue Fei. Hence, legend has it that the evil couple met an oily fate in hell where they were deep-fried as ghosts over and over again to pay for their sins against the legendary General. That is why, the Chinese crullers are always sold in pairs; they are essentially two dough strips stuck in the middle. (Smoky Wok)
Preserved eggs are an acquired taste as well and most Western palates might not be used to it at first, these are preserved duck eggs that are black in colour with an almost greenish looking yolk and are sold cooked. The texture of the white is almost jelly-like and the yolk is a little greenish. (Smoky Wok)
Below is more info about preserved eggs, from Wikipedia:
Century egg or pidan (Chinese: 皮蛋; pinyin: pídàn), also known as preserved egg, hundred-year egg, thousand-year egg, thousand-year-old egg, and millennium egg, is a Chinese cuisine ingredient made by preserving duck, chicken or quail eggs in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, quicklime, and rice hulls for several weeks to several months, depending on the method of processing.
Even though the traditional method is still widely practiced, modern understanding of the chemistry behind the formation of century eggs has led to many simplifications in the recipe. For instance, soaking the eggs in a brine of salt, calcium hydroxide, and sodium carbonate for 10 days followed by several weeks of aging while wrapped in plastic is said to achieve the same effect as the traditional method. This is because egg-curing in both the new and traditional methods is accomplished by introducing hydroxide ions and sodium into the egg.
The poisonous compound lead(II) oxide increases the curing speed of century eggs, which has led to some unscrupulous producers in the past adding it to their curing mixtures. However, zinc oxide is now used as a safer alternative. Although zinc is an essential micronutrient, excessive zinc consumption can lead to copper deficiency, so the zinc content needs to be checked for safety.