In my book Thanking the Moon, you'll notice that part of the night-time picnic meal includes eggs (eggs are also eaten in Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, too!). That is because eggs are round--symbolizing harmony and fullness--just like the moon! So eggs, are a customary snack during the Moon Festival. You could have them simply boiled or even deviled, but a traditional preparation that is easy, delicious and also quite pretty is to make tea-stained eggs:
Chinese Tea Egg Recipe
3/4 cup soy sauce
2 star anise
2 tablespoons black tea (or 2 tea bags-stronger tea, the better)
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon pepper
2 strips dried tangerine or mandarin orange peel (optional)
1. Gently place the eggs in a medium pot and fill with water to cover the eggs by 1-inch. Bring the pot to a boil, lower the heat and let simmer for 3 minutes. Remove the eggs (leaving the water in the pot) and let cool under running cool water.
2. Using the back of the teaspoon, gently tap the eggshell to crack the shell all over. The more you tap, the more intricate the design. Make sure to keep the overall shell intact:
the eggshell should be cracked but still whole
3. To the same pot with the boiling water, return the eggs and add in the remaining ingredients. Bring the mixture to a boil and immediately turn the heat to low:
4. Simmer for 40 minutes to an hour, cover with lid and then let eggs steep for a few hours to overnight. The tea eggs will become more flavorful and with deeper patterns the longer you let them steep:
5. Remove the shells from the eggs:This is always the funnest part.
And you are done! Enjoy! They should be fragrant and flavorful and patterned--a joy for the mouth and the eye. Yum!
In honor of my new book Thanking the Moon: Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival (now available!!) I'm running a week-long series of posts on the Moon Festival. Don't forget you can celebrate the book & the festival with me this Sunday in NYC at the MOCA's Mid-Autumn Family Festival!