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Unlikely local sandwiches: Salted duck eggs 咸鸭蛋 and Lufu 卤腐


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Last week we looked at the Chinese BLT; today here are two other sandwiches that you might not have tried before. The first one presses salted duck eggs 咸鸭蛋 into service. This is one more of those foods that is not well known in the west even though it is immensely popular everyday fare throughout the Sinosphere. You have doubtless seen them in stores and markets if you live here: blue-gray in color and larger than chicken eggs. Inside, the yolks are deep yellow with a rich, slightly-salty flavor. You may have run into them simply sliced open and served as part of a multi-course meal. Or perhaps your Beijing grandmother crumbled one into the morning porridge 粥 on winter mornings when she knew you were facing exams.


(Please click the photos to enlarge them.)


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           (Photo above right is a Baidu stock picture, not one of my own.) 


They are made by brining duck eggs for several weeks and then packing them in a special red mud mixed with ash and salt, allowing them to air-dry. This loads them with flavor and cures them so that they can be kept without refrigeration at home for a couple of months. I buy them in the neighborhood wet market from Mr. Yang for 1.5 Yuan each. He offers some that are still covered in red earth as well as the "cleaner" edition on the right in the photo below. They are available in different sizes and he usually asks me if I want ones with a strong flavor or ones that are mild. (I opt for more flavor.) Note that these are different from "Century Eggs" or "Thousand-Year Eggs" 皮蛋 that we have talked about before. These don't have that strong sulfurous note; they simply are rich and somewhat salty. Very "egg-y" tasting. 


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Slice a steamed bun/mantou 馒头 or a huajuan 花卷, which is what I've used here. Slice a ripe tomato and salt both sides. Part of a sweet onion completes this part of the prep. 


















The baker was hard at work when I bought the bread, puffs of steam rising out of his stacked baskets. This time I decided to toast my bun in spite of it being fresh. 


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Spread the toasted bread with mayonaise and put it together: egg, onion, tomato. Eat it "open-face" -- Continental style. Slightly messy to handle, but lip-smacking good! 




















Another non-traditional sandwich that has now become a staple in my house is built around lufu 卤腐, a prized Yunnan fermented tofu, pickled in a spicy brine. Other parts of China have something similar called furu 腐乳 that is not quite as pungent. You can find it in crocks or jars in stores, but I buy mine directly from one of the spice and sauce merchants at the neighborhood market because it is fresher. The photo below left shows two kinds of lufu, both cut into square chunks. One is Shilin 石林 style, the other is the  Yuxi 玉溪 variety. A single large cube of it costs 2 or 3 Yuan. Slice it prior to use so that it's easier to spread. If you are eating it beside a main dish as a table condiment 辛辣调味品, just pinch off a bit with your chopsticks. 


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Slice the bread and do the same for a fresh cucumber. 


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Slather on lufu and put it together. The result is intense. You will know you are no longer in Kansas. 



















Both of these are treats you won't find at Subway anytime soon, so you are better off trying to make them at home. 







1. Here's more about "Century Eggs" 皮蛋 -- You can see how they differ from the "Salted Duck Eggs" 咸鸭蛋 used today: 



2. Here's a short photo essay I found about how lufu 卤腐 is traditionally made: http://www.sohu.com/a/223291723_661256


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Used to get this triangular shaped 饼子 in Yinchuan sold on the street by 回族 chaps. You could get it in shops too but always better off the street. If you were lucky it’d still be warm. They were white and looked a bit like the round, soft ones used in 肉夹馍 but they were better. They had a kind of sour dough flavour to them. Anyway, at that time real bread was tough to find so these became the go-to for sandwiches. Slap a fried egg in them for a fine breakfast or Chicken and mayo with lettuce for a lunch. 


I miss them. Beijing have ones that look similar (usually round) but the taste isn’t the same and usually not so fresh.  

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I miss them. Beijing have ones that look similar (usually round) but the taste isn’t the same and usually not so fresh.  


I know what you mean! 


About the "sourdough" flavor: I'll bet they did save some of today's batch of batter and use it tomorrow as "starter." Not an uncommon technique. 

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8 hours ago, edelweis said:

Still wondering what the sandwich secretes.


Haha! The secret is using unlikely Chinese ingredients to make a sandwich in the first place. Duck eggs are traditionally served as is, just sliced open, or chopped into a dish which is being boiled 粥 or pan-fried 金沙玉米。Same for lufu 卤腐, which is usually just put on the table as is and nibbled with chopsticks a pinch at a time along with vegetables 蔬菜, meat 肉, or even steamed rice 米饭。


Chinese cooking doesn't really feature sandwiches, one exception being the 肉夹馍 which has long been popular in the northwest and has now spread throughout the whole country. 


P.S: Thanks for calling my attention to the typo. I've gone back and fixed it. 

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10 hours ago, abcdefg said:

. I've gone back and fixed it. 

But that was the attention grabber getting people in the door! 


What kinds of sandwiches do they have in China that secrete? 

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Confession: Sometimes these food articles take shape easily and my fingers can barely move fast enough to get them onto the page. The food tastes great on the first try and the recipe requires minimal editing and corrections. Other times, however, it's a struggle to shape the material into something that might be fun for others to read. It's at those times I must watch out for the urge to "try too hard" and must resist using cheap gimmicks that I would much prefer to avoid. 


Clearly I don't always get it right first time around. So I must go back to try and make improvements. Even after several years, it is still a learning process. I apologize and hope you will continue to bear with me.    

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