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Shanghai Connection Between Bourdain and Chen

Recently, Anthony Bourdain ate $150 per pound Australian Wagu beef in an episode of CNN’s Parts Unknown. He was exploring the food and culture of Shanghai, as did Joyce Chen her 1962 cookbook, Joyce Chen Cooks with her recipe for Tea Eggs.

Parts Unknown
In his Shanghai episode, Bourdain said,
“Even with the modern China rising – there is still this China.
The good old stuff
The China you first fell in love with
Walk down the street and look in any direction, there’s something to eat.”

Bourdain ate his way through stalls on the street and an uber fancy private club, The House of Roosevelt. He ate dumplings, soups, vegetables, and lots more. He said, “In the 50 and 60s Chinese food was an essential part of being a New Yorker.”

Bourdain marveled at the passion with which the Shanghainese eat. He also said, “Food is the best weapon on earth to make peace.”

Joyce Chen’s Tea Eggs
Fifty-two years before Bourdain’s Parts Unknown episode about Shanghai, Joyce Chen brought Tea Eggs, a popular Shanghai appetizer, snack, or side dish to the American palate.

In Joyce Chen Cooks, Chen said, “This (Tea Eggs) is a popular picnic items in China and it is wonderful for hors d’oeuvres here. It is served both by rich families and can be bought at street corners, especially in Hangchow, where vendors put the eggs in a small wock (sic) (Chinese frying pan) which is kept warm over a small wood flame.”

Hangchow is a city in China that is about 100 miles from Shanghai. A delicious, savory treat, the Tea Eggs are made by first hard boiling eggs, and then simmering them in a mixture including soy sauce and star anise.

According to Chen, the, “… cracks on the egg shell make a beautiful design on egg whites like the cracks on antique porcelain.”

Joyce Chen’s recipe for Tea Eggs has been updates with our Joyce Chen Star Anise, and Joyce Chen Double Black Soy Sauce, which will yield a richer brown color and deeper flavored egg.