My last century egg

This is my last century egg. My mom gave me a pack of six a while back, but I didn’t crack it open (Get it? Get it?) until quarantine started. Now I’m down to my last piece.

The hardest things to replace in my pantry have been ingredients that are only usually found in specialty grocery stores: century eggs, sate paste, and dried scallops and mushrooms. I thankfully have a jar of gochujang that doesn’t look like it’s going to run out anytime soon, and it seems easy to find Japanese curry bricks, but weirdly, not Japanese miso.

The go-to meals I make for myself usually consist of breakfast staples, but during the quarantine, I’ve been looking for comforting flavors from my childhood. That isn’t a surprise. What surprised me was what those flavors were. I was expecting things like fried eggs and pancakes, food I searched for when I was younger and, lacing access to them, learned to make for myself.

Instead, I’d been craving Filipino and Chinese food, dishes that were always accessible and thus, I never learned to make. Thankfully, I have a couple of bottles of good bagoong (one vegan and one alamang) on hand, and was able to find real patis (apparently, a lot of what’s in the grocery are merely patis-flavored. Sacrilege!). This realisation has led me to try making dishes like inabraw, and later, I plan to try minatamis na munggo, which I have never had and whose concept intrigues me.

Being cooped up with limited access to ingredients and condiments has made me realised how linked I am to my Chinese Filipino heritage. I may write in English, but my taste, when pared down to its core, is Chinoy.

When all of this is over, and I hope it’s over soon, one of the first things I plan to do is fill my pantry with ingredients necessary to replicate the flavors that soothe my soul. If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught me, it’s that even the smallest thing should not be taken for granted. Now, I wonder: when’s a good time to eat that last century egg?


Yvette Tan is a multi-awarded author of horror fiction and a lifestyle writer for major local and international titles.