No, I haven't lost track of what day it is — I know I usually do concept posts on Mondays, but this week I'm doing two character posts instead. There will be an extra-special concept post next Monday though!
蛋 (dàn) is the Chinese character for egg; you may see this on a menu simply as 蛋, or you may see additional specification in the form of 雞蛋 (jī dàn). 雞 is chicken, and I did wonder the first time I saw it whether the eggs were specified as being chicken eggs because 蛋 on its own implied e.g. a duck egg — however, pulchritude set me straight, explaining that 雞蛋 is used rather than 蛋 for reasons of euphony, in situations where 蛋 on its own would sound lopsided or awkward.
There are a couple of situations where 蛋 generally refers to the egg of a duck, however; specifically, 皮蛋 (pí dàn) and 鹹蛋 (xián dàn).
皮蛋 are usually called "century eggs" or "thousand-year-old eggs" in English. The literal translation is "skin egg", which refers to the traditional method of making them by covering raw duck eggs in a high-pH paste based on lime and wood ash, then leaving them to cure. When the process is over, the yolks will have become creamy and sulphorous, while the whites will have set and changed colour to a beautiful dark amber colour — see Helen Yuet Ling Pang's post on 皮蛋 for photos.
Helen also mentions a couple of ways to eat these eggs. One is 皮蛋豆腐 (pí dàn dòu fu), which is a cold dish of century eggs combined with tofu/beancurd (豆腐). Another is 皮蛋瘦肉粥 (pí dàn shòu ròu zhǒu), which is congee/rice porridge (粥/zhǒu) with century eggs and lean pork (瘦肉).
鹹蛋 are salted eggs. You can make these yourself at home, by soaking raw eggs in brine for a few weeks (here's a recipe for the Filipino version and here's one for the Chinese version). Unlike 皮蛋, 鹹蛋 must be cooked before you eat them; in Chinese cuisines, this is usually accomplished by steaming.
I've mentioned 鹹蛋 before, in my post on 鹹蛋黃玉米粉 (xián dàn huáng yù mǐ fěn) — sweetcorn with salted egg yolk. 黃 (huáng) means "yellow", and 蛋黃 ("egg yellow") means egg yolk, so 鹹蛋黃 are the yolks of salted duck eggs — it's not uncommon for the yolks to be the only part of the 鹹蛋 used in a dish, and you can actually buy the yolks separately if that's all you need.
Here are some other dishes that use 蛋 in the name:
|番茄蛋花湯||fān qié dàn huā tāng||tomato and egg drop ("egg flower") soup|
|韭菜蝦仁炒雞蛋||jiǔ cài xiā rén chǎo jī dàn||stir-fried (scrambled) eggs with Chinese chives and peeled prawns|
|雞蛋炒飯||jī dàn chǎo fàn||egg fried rice|
|酥皮蛋撻||sū pí dàn tà||egg tarts — note that the 皮 here is attached to the 酥 rather than the 蛋, since 酥皮 refers to the "crispy skin" (pastry) of the tart|
|蕃茄炒蛋||fān qié chǎo dàn||stirfried eggs with tomatoes|
As well as these, sung points out in comments another use of the character 蛋, which he actually told me about before and I forgot about — the Cantonese term for fish balls (魚丸 or yú wán to non-Cantonese) is 魚蛋, literally "fish eggs", due to their being roughly egg-shaped.
- 涼菜 (liáng cài/cold dishes),
- 豆 and 腐 (dòu and fǔ/beans and beancurd),
- 皮 (pí/skin/leather/rind),
- 粥 (zhǒu/congee),
- 皮蛋豆腐 (pí dàn dòu fu/beancurd with preserved egg),
- 鹹蛋黃玉米粉 (xián dàn huáng yù mǐ fěn/sweetcorn with salted egg yolk),
- 皮蛋瘦肉粥 (pí dàn shòu ròu zhǒu/congee with pork and preserved egg),
- 月餅 (yuè bǐng/mooncakes),
- 蕃茄炒蛋 (fān qié chǎo dàn/stirfried eggs with tomatoes)
|蛋:||dàn||radical 142 (虫)||Cantodict||MandarinTools||YellowBridge||Zhongwen|