Monday, July 17, 2023

Tea and Tea Eggs in Shanghai: Guest Post by Tori Eldridge

If you love tea even half as much as me or my ninja sleuth heroine, Lily Wong, you’ll flip over my recipe for mosaic-patterned, tea-marinated eggs. These beautiful eggs, flavored with Chinese five spice powder, ginger, peppercorns, a hint of sugar, soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, and tea make a memorable treat for yourself, family, and friends.
Read on for the recipe and an excerpt from The Ninja’s Oath, book four in my Lily Wong mystery-thriller series, set in Shanghai and Japan.
In the scene below, Lily buys tea eggs on Chongming Island with Lee Chang (AKA Uncle), a former Shanghainese triad enforcer and head cook back in Los Angeles for Lily’s father, a North Dakota-Norwegian Hong Kong cuisine chef. They are joined by J Tran—a mysterious Southeast Asian assassin who tangled with Lily in The Ninja Daughter, invaded her thoughts in The Ninja’s Blade, and made a surprise appearance in Hong Kong during The Ninja Betrayed.
In The Ninja’s Oath (coming 9/12 in a hardcover release), my Chinese-Norwegian modern-day ninja travels to Shanghai and joins forces with J Tran to help Lee locate and rescue his kidnapped twelve-year-old grandniece. When the hunt leads to another missing relative, the trio of dangerous heroes—ninja, triad, and assassin—are pitted against an even greater foe.
Of course, family complicates everything!
This mission would be far simpler if not for Lee’s resentful brother, conniving cousins, and despairing elderly mother who Lee and Lily must move out of the family’s shikumen house before the government tears it down. Forged by the Japanese invasion, Chang Kai-shek, the Green Gang, and Mao Zedung, Lee’s family lineage is entwined into the stunning history of Shanghai. 
Back in Los Angeles, Lily’s father is struck down with an unknown disease. Lily’s mother begs her to return, but dire consequences force Lily to stay the course. While she faces potentially insurmountable odds and worries about her father’s waning health, she is shocked by the true identity of her ninja teacher—known only Sensei—and the truth behind why he left Japan.
The Ninja’s Oath is a high-octane thrill ride. More action. More ninja. More family. And more intriguingly delicious food. Keep your local Chinese and Japanese restaurants on speed dial. And be sure to accompany it with a fine pot of tea.
Excerpt from THE NINJA’S OATH by Tori Eldridge

We stopped at a grocery shack with a picnic table by the side of a canal where I brought out the first aid kit I carried in my pack. After washing off the blood with the water from my pouch, I disinfected and glued the slash on my arm. I did the same for the cuts on Uncle’s shoulder and cheek. Feeling more presentable, we left Tran to watch his motorcycle and our rideshare bikes while Uncle and I bought tea eggs, sweet potatoes, and bottled water for lunch.
I unwrapped my egg and admired the tea-stained designs that had seeped through the cracks. The shop owners had partially boiled the eggs, cracked the shells, and soaked these beauties in a spiced brew of black tea. The Shaoxing rice wine and soy gave it a gorgeous color and an inviting scent. I bit into the egg and showed it to Uncle.
“They made the yolk soft like yours.”
He nodded with approval. “The trick is to soak the eggs overnight instead of boiling them a second time.”
Tran peeled open his sweet potato and revealed the purple flesh. “You cook for her father’s restaurant?”
Uncle frowned my way. “How much does he know about you?”
“More than I’d like.”
He eyed the assassin and stuffed the entire egg into his mouth.
Tran shrugged. “I asked out of courtesy. I know all about Red Pole Chang.”
“Then tell me about you,” Uncle said, his mouth full of egg. “Lily called you a killer. Out of fun or for hire?”
“Hire. Mostly. Never for fun.”
“On what?”
Uncle wiped his mouth. “Why are you here? And what do you want?”
“To help.”
“Help is the means. What do you want from Lily?”
Tran stared into my eyes with the same uncomfortable fascination he had shown in Los Angeles. Then he looked back at Uncle and stuffed the entire sweet potato into his mouth.



Notes: I’ve substituted mixed color peppercorns for Sichuan peppercorns and Chinese 5 spice powder in place of star anise and cinnamon bark to make the ingredients easier to attain. I kept the Shaoxing wine because it has a distinctive flavor. Find it in Asian markets and try it in all of your meat marinades. Delicious! Sake is the next best thing. Or simply add an extra ½ cup of tea instead.
6 to 12 Eggs
4 tablespoons light soy sauce
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
(Or use 6 tablespoons of whatever soy sauce you have)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon mixed color peppercorns (any color or black is fine)
1 teaspoon Chinese 5 spice powder 
1 to 2-inch knuckle of ginger, peeled and smashed
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar (according to taste)
1 teaspoon salt (use less or none if soy sauce is salty enough for your taste)
2 tablespoons Asaam or other black tea leaves (or 2 quality black tea bags)
2 cups water
½ cup Shaoxing Chinese Rice Wine
Ø  Bring all ingredients (except for eggs) to boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for ten minutes. Remove cover, turn off heat, and let marinade sit until it cools to room temperature.
Ø  Boil water for eggs. Lower to simmer, and gently cook the eggs for 7 minutes for medium boiled eggs.
Ø  Plunge cooked eggs into an ice-water bath.
Ø  Tap eggs with the back of a spoon to crack the shells enough for the marinade to soak through.
Ø  Place eggs in a quart–size ziplock bag with the marinade.
Ø  Place in refrigerator for 1 to 5 days. (Eggs become more flavorful after time)
Enjoy on their own or with noodles or congee.

Tori Eldridge is the bestselling author of THE NINJA’S OATH (out September 12), book four of the Lily Wong thriller series—two-time Anthony Award nominee, Lefty, and Macavity Awards finalist, and 2021 Crimson Scribe winner for Best Book of the Year. Her dark fantasy thriller, DANCE AMONG THE FLAMES, was inspired by her screenplay that earned a semi-finalist nod from the Academy Nicholl Fellowship. Tori’s shorter works appear in numerous anthologies including MWA’s 2022 anthology, CRIME HITS HOME. Tori has performed on Broadway, television, and film, and earned a 5th degree black belt in To-Shin Do ninja martial arts. Learn more at
Preorder and read early to participate in Tori’s Virtual Book Club!

No comments: