Liuzhou Laowai

Random thoughts on life in Liuzhou, Guangxi, China

Friday Food 127 – Dried Egg

Friday Food is an occasional article about one of the more unusual food items to be found in Liuzhou that week. This time we are getting eggy.

The very mention of ‘dried egg’ would send my mother into deep depression. She was of that generation who lived through World War 2 rationing in the UK, when fresh eggs were restricted to one per person a week. Pregnant women could get two, not that that would help my mother, who was still a child. Alternatively, one could exchange one’s fresh egg allowance for one packet of dried egg powder per month. This was the equivalent of 12 eggs. Of course, egg powder can’t be reconstituted to make a soft boiled egg for breakfast, although scrambled egg was just about possible.

People soon became very tired of ‘dried egg’ as they called it. Dried egg powder is still produced of course, but its use mainly confined to industrial and catering situations.

It comes as no surprise that the Chinese have been drying eggs for centuries. However, they have their own take on it. Instead of powdering the eggs, they make it into blocks very much resembling the smoked tofu I mentioned two weeks ago. It is known as 鸡蛋干, dried chicken egg.

ji dan gan

This one comes from Sichuan and is vacuum sealed with a stated shelf life of 9 months.

Opening the packet reveals this slightly wet block with the texture of a medium soft cheese. It has the same brown exterior and the same more creamy coloured inside as the smoked tofu. The texture is also identical.

ji dan gan2

Not only does it resemble tofu in appearance and texture; it is used in the same way. Anything you can do with tofu, (stir-fried, deep fried, in soups, hot pots and braises etc), you can use this dried egg instead.

You can’t make scrambled eggs with it, though.

. This entry was posted on Friday, June 6th, 2014 at 8:18 am and is filed under Food and Drink, Friday Food. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “Friday Food 127 – Dried Egg”

  1. Neil Maxwell Says:

    Being somewhat older than the “Laowai” I well remember the American egg powder that kept us going through the (2nd World) war. There was also a similar British-made version available later on which was similar in taste but was concocted from vegetables and possibly saw dust, at least that is what it looked and tasted like.
    It could be bought “off ration” i.e., no coupons required, and when used for an “omelet’ it was made palatable with large dollops of HP sauce.
    I believe its trade name was “Frizettes”

  2. Liuzhou Laowai Says:

    Actually, the “American version” was invented in London in the 1930s. The company concerned patented the process and built a factory in Singapore to produce the egg powder from Chinese liquid egg. As the prospect of war loomed, they moved the factory to Argentina.

    Once war broke out, the UK government rescinded the patent under emergency powers and other manufacturers moved in, including the USA at a later stage. They missed the start of the war in more ways than one.

    Frizettes were something else entirely. ‘A sort of fritter, bought as a dry mix, from which batter was made and fried.’

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