This is the homey, deeply colored, and rich-tasting Chinese version of hard-boiled eggs. The cooked eggs are scored, plunked into a pot of hot master sauce, then left to steep untended for hours. It is a no-work dish, a simple way of transforming dull, everyday eggs into delicious golden orbs with a distinctive fragrance and taste. Even confirmed hard-boiled egg haters (like myself) enjoy them.
Put the eggs and salt in the bottom of a heavy saucepan. Cover with cold water, then bring to a near-boil over moderate heat. Simmer 7 minutes. Drain, rush the eggs under cold water until cool, then shell.
Use a sharp thin-bladed knife to make 4 lengthwise gashes at even intervals around each egg, cutting from top to bottom, almost down to—but not into—the yolk.
Bring the master sauce to a gentle simmer in a small heavy pot that will hold the eggs snugly. Taste the sauce, and* adjust if required with a bit more water, soy, wine, or golden rock sugar. The sauce should taste rich and well-balanced.
Lower the scored eggs gently into the sauce. Adjust the heat to maintain a slow simmer, cover the pot, and simmer the eggs 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the eggs steep in the sauce 1–3 hours, or overnight. The longer they steep, the more intense the flavor and color will be. Swirl the pot occasionally while steeping to distribute the eggs in the sauce.
Remove the eggs carefully from the sauce. Strain the sauce through several layers of cheesecloth, then bottle and refrigerate or freeze for future use.
Serve the eggs tepid, at room temperature, or chilled. Leave them whole or cut them into halves or quarters to show off the pretty coloration.
Sealed and refrigerated, the eggs will keep 4–5 days.
© 1982 Barbara Tropp estate. All rights reserved.