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On page 431 of Fuchsia Dunlop's The Food Of Sichuan there is a sort of vague description of a boozy preserved egg (zaodon, 糟蛋) but I'm having trouble finding any more detail on how they are made.

This is the description of how the eggs are made in the book:

Zaodan are made by tapping duck eggs all over to crack their shells, while leaving their inner membranes intact. These fragile things are then steeped in a wonderfully aromatic liquid, dark as long-steeped tea, fragrant with fermented glutinous rice wine, strong baijiu grain liquor, brown sugar and spices, for up to three years.

I found this recipe which, when I passed it through google translate, seems to describe something similar, but most of the recipe has the eggs sitting in "sweet grains" and only at the end do you soak it in alcohol. I also found a couple youtube videos (here and here) of people eating some sort of preserved egg which looks like it might have been fermented in a grain but I can't tell if it is the same thing described in the book. All the other recipes, videos, and descriptions I could find seemed to be of tea eggs or century eggs and the English search results were mainly just about eggnog.

Should I be using other search terms? Are the eggs in grain from the recipe I found and from those videos the same thing as the eggs described in the book? How are these made, and is this something I could reasonably try at home?

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  • Maybe wait for Dunlop to do another internet show and pop the question to her?
    – FuzzyChef
    Mar 1 at 6:53
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Here's a (slightly abridged) translation of the recipe you found:

  1. (i) Select clean and fresh duck eggs with even shells.
    (ii) Other ingredients: glutinous (sticky) rice, wine lees, salt, brown sugar etc.
  2. (i) Soak the glutinous rice in water - 24 hours at 12C, an hour less for every 2C increase in temperature.
    (ii) Drain and rinse the rice. Steam for 10 minutes, then sprinkle on some water. Steam for 15 more minutes, give it a mix, then steam for 5-10 more minutes.
    (iii) Rinse the rice with cooled boiled water to cool it down to 28-30C.
    (iv) Mix the lees with the cooled rice, and pack it into a fermentation crock. Sprinkle a layer of lees on top. [Using a rolling pin or similar,] create a deep hole in the middle of the rice. When the hole is filled with liquid, mix everything together. Age for half a month.
  3. Using a piece of bamboo [or a spoon], crack the eggs very gently, making sure not to break the membrane.
  4. (i) Sterilise a fermentation crock by steaming it.
    (ii) For 100 duck eggs: prepare 5kg rice wine [made in part 2]; 0.8kg 65% alcohol baijiu; 0.8kg brown sugar; 20g each of dried tangerine peel, star anise, and Sichuan peppercorns; and 1kg salt.
    (iii) Combine the rice wine, the baijiu, and the salt and layer the mixture with the eggs in three layers and store at room temperature.
  5. (i) Remove the hard eggshells.
    (ii) Soak the eggs in baijiu for 1-2 days until the egg white/yolk solidifies.
    (iii) Add the sugar and spices from before to the fermentation liquid, then add the solidified, peeled eggs back.
    (iv) Age for 3-4 months, stir, then age for a further 2-3 months, after which they are ready to eat.

As you can see, this is a very long and involved recipe. What you're doing in step 2 is basically making fermented rice or laozao- here's a good guide on how to make this. It's also very similar to Dunlop's description, so I think it's very likely that those videos you found are of what she's describing. You can see the shells have been removed to leave the membrane, creating a sort of "soft-shelled" egg. It's certainly possible to make at home, but quite complicated.

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  • I definitely don’t mind the long bit given I’ve not been doing much else interesting since last March, but I’m a little skeptical this would be worth trying scaled down to the one or two eggs I’d want to try it with. If I do I’ll definitely be trying just the laozao first. Thanks!
    – qfwfq
    Mar 1 at 15:25

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