The Great Century Egg Experiment

Thai markets are a kaleidoscope of colours, from plasticware to vegetables to eggs.

I’ve been wondering about the pink eggs ever since our first trip to a market in Chiang Mai last October. Darling Man wasn’t familiar with them, said he’d never seen pink eggs in Vietnam.

So I photographed the eggs and wondered about the eggs and never took the pink egg problem any further.

Until today when I spotted pink eggs in the supermarket …

… with an English translation!

They’re century eggs, according to the packet. There were white century eggs for sale as well. But we decided to try the pretty ones.

We sailed home from the supermarket with our pink eggs, Miss M wearing her new cat sunglasses.

Miss M helped me photograph and cook the eggs. (I took photos of the eggs without her busy fingers but decided the pictures with her fingers were far cuter!)

We boiled the eggs for 10 minutes, then peeled them.

Inside the “white” was a strange anenome-like formation. Darling Man said he didn’t know what it could be.

A quick check of Wikipedia reveals this “pine” pattern is the reason why century eggs are sometimes called pine patterned eggs in Chinese. Wiki also reveals century eggs are “preserved in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, lime, and rice hulls for several weeks to several months” and can keep for up to three months.

The result: “mmmm, nummy!” Our non-eating toddler gave century eggs her seal of approval.

The eggs had an unusual taste. Eggy, yet not eggy, and lightly salted. The “white” part of the egg was a beautiful tea-brown, the yolk a dark forest green.

Adding to the excitement of this experiment was the discovery by the ever-scientific Miss M that boiled century eggs bounce!

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12 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.


  1. Amy says:

    At first I thought you must have been dying the egg shells. Have you ever tried doing that? The kids find it so much fun, and then painting them! One time after we’d dyed the egg shells, we put a ball of cotton wool in each one, and then grew sprouts in it. The kids loved it.
    Amy recently posted..Photo Friday – Sunsets

  2. Wow … that was unexpected! Not sure if I’d try it, but it’s great to have that mystery solved, as I too was wondering about this…
    James Shannon recently posted..Photo: White Sand Beach, Koh Chang, Thailand

  3. Katjaq says:

    I’ve only ever eaten them in soup, so have never really looked all that closely at them. That pine pattern’s gorgeous, and I love the pink shells. Is the pink a side-effect of the century-ising, or is it just dye to make them look pretty?
    Katjaq recently posted..Ciao, bella – bella, ciao

    • Barbara says:

      Well, Katjaq, the pink colour scraped off and flaked off, so I’m not sure if was a dye or some kind of covering. The pink shell does look stunning against the dark egg, maybe the pink colour is purely for aesthetics… I don’t know.
      The pine pattern really did look like a anemone inside the egg. I can’t wait to cook up the other two eggs to see if they end up with the pine pattern also. I just need to look up some century egg recipes to make sure we get the best out of our remaining two pink eggs.

  4. well bouncing eggs are worth every penny!
    wandering educators recently posted..Stockholm’s Archipelago: Vaxholm

  5. Stephanie says:

    Wow! Never heard of these things before! I also thought that they were just dyed on the inside, but that is obviously not the case! The ‘whites’ of the egg kind of looks like cranberry sauce!
    Stephanie recently posted..Steph’s Steps to Getting Your White Sneakers White Again!

    • Barbara says:

      Darling Man pointed out to me a few weeks ago that egg shells have to be porous for the chicks to breathe. I’d never really though about it before. So the “dyeing on inside” happens through the shell. It’s so weird, isn’t it?

  6. That looks very bizarre! Glad they tasted better than they look.
    Stephanie – The Travel Chica recently posted..Celebrating Summer in Valdivia

  7. jade says:

    wow- these are strange- looking! I love the pink color and think I’d try them out (I’ll try anything once!) but they are definitely weird!!
    jade recently posted..Eat like a Spaniard to Lose Weight

  8. Snap says:

    khai yiao maa – (ไข่เยี่ยวม้า) literally means ‘egg urine horse’ in Thai 🙁 I loved them, especially their clearish appearence…they reminded me of agate.
    Snap recently posted..Angkor Wat and Siem Reap

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