Young and Hungry

Are You Gonna Eat That? Thousand-Year-Old Egg

The Dish: Thousand-year-old egg with tofu and spring onions (also known as the "century egg")

Where to Get ItA & J Restaurant, two locations: 4316 Markham St., Annandale. (703) 813-8181; 1319 Rockville Pike, Rockville, Md. (301) 251-7878

Price: $4.55

What It Is: Like a hand grenade, this cured duck egg is smooth and glossy as black marble with a creamy, silver yolk inside. The snowflake patterns on the outside are nature's attempt to distract you before you get ambushed by the smell. The eggs aren't actually a thousand years old; they're usually cured for about 100 days.

What It Tastes Like: The aroma is that of 100 hipsters trapped inside a hot Metro train in August.  Yet the taste is earthy, creamy, and slightly mineral, like a fine Époisses de Bourgogne.

History of the Dish: What did people do before refrigeration? Stick things in the ground. This Chinese delicacy came about when someone decided to do just that—bury eggs in clay, ash, whatever they could find. It turned out so well the Chinese have been doing it for 500 years.

How to Eat It: Trying to eat tofu or anything jiggly with chopsticks seems like a cruel martial arts exercise, but it can be done. Don't be afraid to ask for a fork to scoop up a little bit of egg with a little bit of tofu in each bite.  It's soft, creamy, nutty, earthy and delicious.

Photo by Mary Kong-DeVito

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