After opening Eggshell Bistro in Carmel in 2011, chef-owner Larry Hanes spent a year tweaking his approach to the tea egg before his current rendition graced the bill of fare. “I used to be an illustrator, so I tend to look at my recipes like paintings that I need to step away from and come back to until they’re just right,” Hanes says. With the final stamp of approval from his fiancee, a native of Chengdu, China, he put his refined take on the Chinese street food—a stunning mosaic of herbal, aromatic flavors—on menus. Here, Hanes imparts his approach to the Asian delicacy almost too pretty to eat.
• 1 dozen eggs
• 4 tablespoons loose-leaf black tea
• 5 tablespoons black soy sauce, available at Asian grocery stores
• 1 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
• 1 tablespoon Sichuan peppercorn, available at Penzeys Spices
• 4 whole star anise
• 6 whole cloves
• 3 cinnamon sticks
• 1 small slice of ginger (leave peel attached)
• zest of one orange
1. Put eggs in a saucepan with cold water about 2 inches above the eggs and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once the water achieves a rolling boil, cover, remove from heat, and set a timer for 10 minutes.
2. When the timer goes off, submerge the eggs in a bowl filled with ice water and let them cool for about 3 minutes.
3. Gently take out each egg and tap with the back side of a soup-sized spoon. Repeat the gentle tapping around all sides of the egg, but be careful not to chip off any of the shell. The cracks and fissures will encourage good flavor penetration.
4. Put cracked eggs back into the original saucepan and add extra water as needed until it is approximately 2 inches above the eggs. Add all remaining ingredients.
5. Bring to a boil over medium heat. As soon as the water begins to boil, reduce to low heat and simmer for 2–3 hours.
6. Remove from heat and allow the eggs to cool. Serve at any temperature.
Video by Felicia Lahti; photo by Tony Valainis
This article appeared in the April 2014 issue.