Eat a Preserved Century Egg at a Thai Market

While taking a Thai cooking class, we made a stop by Chiang Mai’s Somphet Market to purchase ingredients for our dishes. This proved to be a bit more eventful than originally planned. Of course, it had a colorful selection of native fruits and vegetables, along with fresh fish being scaled right in front of you. But, what was unexpected was the opportunity to eat a pastel pink century egg.

A century egg, also known as a thousand year old egg, is an Asian tradition in which an egg is preserved for several weeks or months using a process that combines clay, ash, salt, quicklime and rice hulls. Yum.

We walked through the market with our guide as he pointed out ingredients, some of which we would be using in our meal and most of which would not. He picked up a century egg, gave a brief description and let us all take a whiff. It smelled like ammonia and boasted a moldy green color, so there weren’t many takers when asked if anybody wanted to try it. Except me. And I don’t even like normal, fresh eggs.

Of course, if I’m going to eat something strange so is Peter. Mostly because I make him. He’ll thank me for the experience later. Or not.

Surprisingly, and thankfully, the egg didn’t taste like it smelled. It tasted like a warm, slightly old hard-boiled egg. Not as bad as lamb brain, yet not good enough to eat the entire thing either.

We continued through the market, with the faint scent century egg on our breath. A lasting memory.

With the egg in the past, I fell in love with the eclectic varieties of eggplants, most of which I had never seen before.

And I wanted to make eggplant parmigiana with every one of them.

Even though we would be making our own curry in class, you could purchase it at Somphet Market already complete. But, what fun would that be?

I already had my heart set on using a mortar and pestle to make my spicy paste.

We wouldn’t need to be purchasing coconut milk either, but there was a quick demonstration as to how is was made by simply squeezing.   

What fascinated me most about the market, besides the smell of the century egg, was the air-filled bags that held random nuts and beans. It reminded me of the plastic bags of live fish being sold at Hong Kong’s Goldfish Market.

And I was completely perplexed by how they got the air in there. Apparently, it doesn’t take much to puzzle me.

With the shopping complete, we headed to the kitchen to learn what to do with all of our purchases. And I was grateful to not see a century egg in any of the bags.

Annette White Eating a Century Egg

Have you ever eaten a century egg?

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Get a Thai Massage in Thailand
Volunteer with Elephants at a Rescue in Thailand

36 thoughts on “Eat a Preserved Century Egg at a Thai Market”

  1. Wow reading this makes me remember how much I miss Thai food… as well as how bad I remember those fish markets smelling!

  2. First thought – no to the green egg but it made me think about Dr. Seuss and the green eggs and ham story. Perhaps I would like a century egg after all. =)

    • Sometimes I do worry about getting sick after eating strange things, but so far so good. Did I just jinx myself?

  3. I so admire your bravery! I’ve always been terrified of those things and am happy to simply live vicariously through you. Will you be sharing the thai curry paste recipe? Would love to try it out! :)

    • The egg was definitely scarier looking than tasting, but I probably don’t need to have another one ;)
      I will have to see if I still have the curry recipe, I think I might.

  4. Annette! I just want to say that I absolutely love your bucket list blog, along with your Facebook page. Somewhere on your blog you referred to yourself as a “Bucket List Stalker” and I guess I’m guilty of that too! I also want to say thank you because reading about all of your exciting adventures and experiences has inspired me to officially create my new bucket list blog if you want to check it out :)

    Oh, and like everyone else has been commenting, I also admire your bravery for eating the egg!

    • Thanks for your kind words, this comment just made my day!! And I am super excited to have another bucket list blog to read :)

  5. I find it funny how many commenters said they wouldn’t have eaten the egg. I grew up with Chinese cuisine (my parents are from Shanghai) so I LOVE century eggs — I usually eat them with rice for breakfast and miss them when I’m in Europe!

    • I have to admit that the smell and color scared me a bit, but they weren’t bad. I could see getting used to them if I lived in Asia!

  6. The thousand century egg tastes best if eaten with plain porridge as a meal or eaten in slices with each alongside with a slice of sweet preserved ginger :)

    Love from a first time reader from Malaysia.

  7. Hahaha looks worse than it tastes? The century’s egg is beautiful. Maybe because you didn’t actually peel the shell off to look at it, but the dark semi-translucent egg white portion has delicate crystal patterns etched all over it, reminiscent of pine tree leaves, snow flake patterns, and plum tree blossoms. It’s also known as pine-flower egg.

    And you’re supposed to eat it sliced into thin wedges dipped in sesame oil, chili oil, and vinegar with a side of rice, all artfully arranged on a plate. Not gingerly licking at the yolk as if it’ll bite you. Honestly. =-= Of course it looks gross that way.

  8. that century egg is best used at a ratio of 1 black egg per medium sized bowl of congee, called black egg congee.

    In Congee the super concentrated taste is dispersed enhancing the entire bowl.

  9. You are not supposed to eat the egg straight up……it’s meant as almost like a condiment to eat WITH with something else; often rice.
    Usually with other sauces. I like mine with soy sauce and cane sugar.

  10. I understood when I tried it, that the ammonia odour was the result of it being soaked in horse urine and our hostess boiled (or soaked) it first to absorb away some of the ammonia effect. But I agree with the consensus, it tasted better than I anticipated.

  11. This is the first time that I have seen such Pastel Pink Eggs but looking at it, I presumed it tasted like the Malaysian Century Eggs (‘MCEs’). The MCEs are covered with Red Sand & Husks (for Ducks’ Eggs & Wax (for Chicken Eggs) but i dared not take the Challenge of eating the Egg with an Embyro inside They are being sold in a Cafe set up by Filipinos at Kota Raya Complex, Jalan Tun Tan Siew Sin, Kuala lumpur, Malaysia.Went there once with my Filipino Female Ex-colleague.


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I'm Annette.

I’m a goal obsessed mid-lifer, traveler, experience collector, fear crusher, digital marketer and author with big bucket list dreams. Let's Connect!

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