How to Throw a Red Egg and Ginger Party (红鸡旦和酸羌)

Learn how to make the perfect red eggs and ginger, the symbolism behind them, and how to plan your party!

Prep Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Yields
12 servings

A Recipe by Daddy Lau

My dad's been cooking Chinese food for over 50 years - as a kid fending for himself in Guangzhou, as the head chef of his own restaurant, and as a loving father in our home.

Hopefully, by learning this recipe, you'll get to experience some of the delicious joy we felt growing up eating his food!

- Randy

Our son Cameron recently turned 100 days old, and much like a kid’s first birthday, it’s common for Chinese families to get together and celebrate this milestone.

There’s really no right or wrong way to do a red egg and ginger party. My cousin hosted hers at a Chinese banquet hall, most of which typically have a red egg and ginger party package, and my nephew celebrated his 100 days at a park with delicious barbecue. 

This blog post will be split up into 3 parts:

  • How to prepare red eggs and ginger
  • The meaning of red eggs, ginger, and other Chinese traditions
  • How to plan a red egg and ginger party

If you’re looking to throw your own party, read on!

Ingredients

Weight: US
oz
g
Volume: US
cup
mL
Servings
12
    Main Ingredients
  • 12 eggs
  • 10 oz ginger
  • Boiling Eggs
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Ginger Prep & Marinade
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp sugar (

    +1 tbsp if using older ginger

    )
  • 5 tbsp vinegar (

    +1 tbsp if using older ginger

    )
  • Food Coloring
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp red food coloring

The differences between young ginger and old ginger

Typically Chinese restaurants will use "young" ginger, similar to what you'd find at a sushi restaurant. Younger ginger has the telltale pink/green tips, whereas older ginger does not.

Young ginger is more fleshy and mild in taste, whereas old ginger is thicker and spicier. Old ginger contains more "gingerol", the primary nutrient that gives ginger its taste.

Since young ginger is usually pretty hard to find, even at Asian grocery stores, my dad is using the more typical "old" ginger root. He makes up for it with extra steps to soften and reign in the spiciness of the ginger, as you'll see later.

What you'll need for the recipe

The only special ingredients you'll need for this recipe are:

Later on in the blog post, we'll have recommendations on where to buy the red outfit for your baby, and other party items.

These links are affiliate links, which means that if you use our links to purchase these ingredients, Amazon pays my family a small amount for the sale - at no extra cost to you. If you use these links, we really appreciate the support!

To give you a quick overview of the timing of each step for making perfect boiled eggs: 

  • In our pot, we’ll fully submerge the eggs (12) in cold water, along with salt and vinegar (more on this later)
  • Set the stove to high heat and bring it to a boil
  • Once it comes to a boil, let it boil for 5 minutes at high heat
  • Remove the pot from the heat, and let the eggs sit for 3 minutes
  • After 3 minutes, soak them in cold water for 2 minutes

First, we'll wash and rub our eggs (12) in water, for cleanliness.

Then, we'll place our eggs in a pot. Fully submerge the eggs in water, along with salt (1 tsp) and vinegar (1 tbsp). Set the stove to high heat, cover the pot, and wait for it to come to a boil.

Once it comes to a boil, let it boil for 5 minutes at high heat, remove the pot from the heat, and let the eggs sit for 3 minutes.

Why do we add salt and vinegar when boiling our eggs?

We add salt because it helps to seal any potential cracks that might form while boiling, and we add vinegar so that the eggs are much easier to peel. 

If you want to nerd out, here’s a pretty interesting article on Buzzfeed that tests out a bunch of different egg boiling methods and how easy it is to peel. 

The article confirms that adding vinegar is clear winner, but also mention that it may add some blemishes to the egg shells. 

Since these red eggs are meant to be on display, if the final aesthetic is more important than an easier peel, then feel free to skip the vinegar. 

However, this method is something you can and should do even when you’re just boiling normal eggs for yourself at home. 

Tip: No oil in the pot

Make sure that your pot has no oil or fat in it from previous meals. Any remaining oil will transfer onto the egg and introduce blemishes when we're trying to dye our eggs red.

While we're waiting for the eggs to boil, add water (1 cup) and red food coloring (2 tsp) to an empty bowl.

You can also potentially skip ahead to preparing ginger as well, but for clarity, we're just explaining how to make the eggs first.

After boiling the eggs for 5 minutes on the stove and 3 minutes off of the stove, transfer the eggs from the pot and soak them in a bowl of cold water for 2 minutes.

Then, we'll place them on a towel and wipe each egg dry. If there's any moisture on the eggs, our eggs might not dye red as evenly.

Dip each egg in the red color solution for 30 seconds, and place them back onto your plate. Once each egg is dipped, we can move on to the ginger!

Sometimes for other recipes (like our Ginger Fried Rice), my dad leaves on the ginger skins for more nutrition.

Since these will be on display, it's better to peel them.

Once peeled, cut the ginger (10 oz) into thin slices.

Add salt (2 tsp) to the bowl of ginger. Mix evenly by shaking the bowl, and try to separate the slices of ginger from clumping together. Set the bowl aside for 5 minutes.

Via osmosis, the salt helps to release some of the moisture from the ginger, and thereby some of the (sometimes overpowering) spiciness of the gingerol.

It also helps soften and tenderize the ginger as well to bring it closer to the texture of young ginger.

To an empty bowl, add sugar and vinegar (5 tbsp). If your ginger is on the older side, add an extra tablespoon of sugar and vinegar each.

If you want, you can also add about 1/2 tsp of the red water solution we made for the eggs, which will give the ginger slices more of a pinkish color.

After 5 minutes of soaking, the ginger should be less spicy and more tender.

Rinse and wash the ginger in water for 20-30 seconds, and drain with a colander.

Squeeze the ginger against the colander to press out any excess water.

We are almost there!

Combine the ginger marinade with the ginger, mix it around. Ideally, the ginger is fully submerged in the marinade mixture.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, place it in the fridge, and let it marinate overnight.

Summary

How to Throw a Red Egg and Ginger Party (红鸡旦和酸羌)
Learn how to make the perfect red eggs and ginger, the symbolism behind them, and how to plan your party!
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Total Time: 30 min
  • Yield: 12 servings
    Main Ingredients
  • 12 eggs
  • 10 oz ginger
  • Boiling Eggs
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Ginger Prep & Marinade
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp sugar (

    +1 tbsp if using older ginger

    )
  • 5 tbsp vinegar (

    +1 tbsp if using older ginger

    )
  • Food Coloring
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp red food coloring
Step 1 - Overview for preparing boiled eggs↑ Jump to details

To give you a quick overview of the timing of each step: 

  • In our pot, we’ll fully submerge the eggs (12) in cold water, along with salt and vinegar (more on this later)
  • Set the stove to high heat and bring it to a boil
  • Once it comes to a boil, let it boil for 5 minutes at high heat
  • Remove the pot from the heat, and let the eggs sit for 3 minutes
  • After 3 minutes, soak them in cold water for 2 minutes
Step 2 - Wash and boil eggs↑ Jump to details

First, we'll wash and rub our eggs (12) in water, for cleanliness.

Then, we'll place our eggs in a pot. Fully submerge the eggs in water, along with salt (1 tsp) and vinegar (1 tbsp). Set the stove to high heat, cover the pot, and wait for it to come to a boil.

Once it comes to a boil, let it boil for 5 minutes at high heat, remove the pot from the heat, and let the eggs sit for 3 minutes.

We add salt because it helps to seal any potential cracks that might form while boiling, and we add vinegar so that the eggs are much easier to peel. 

If you want to nerd out, here’s a pretty interesting article on Buzzfeed that tests out a bunch of different egg boiling methods and how easy it is to peel. 

The article confirms that adding vinegar is clear winner, but also mention that it may add some blemishes to the egg shells. 

Since these red eggs are meant to be on display, if the final aesthetic is more important than an easier peel, then feel free to skip the vinegar. 

However, this method is something you can and should do even when you’re just boiling normal eggs for yourself at home. 

Step 3 - Prepare food coloring↑ Jump to details

While we're waiting for the eggs to boil, add water (1 cup) and red food coloring (2 tsp) to an empty bowl.

You can also potentially skip ahead to preparing ginger as well, but for clarity, we're just explaining how to make the eggs first.

Step 4 - Cool down and wipe eggs↑ Jump to details

After boiling the eggs for 5 minutes on the stove and 3 minutes off of the stove, transfer the eggs from the pot and soak them in a bowl of cold water for 2 minutes.

Then, we'll place them on a towel and wipe each egg dry. If there's any moisture on the eggs, our eggs might not dye red as evenly.

Step 5 - Color the eggs↑ Jump to details

Dip each egg in the red color solution for 30 seconds, and place them back onto your plate. Once each egg is dipped, we can move on to the ginger!

Step 6 - Peel and chop ginger↑ Jump to details

Sometimes for other recipes (like our Ginger Fried Rice), my dad leaves on the ginger skins for more nutrition.

Since these will be on display, it's better to peel them.

Once peeled, cut the ginger (10 oz) into thin slices.

Step 7 - Salt the ginger↑ Jump to details

Add salt (2 tsp) to the bowl of ginger. Mix evenly by shaking the bowl, and try to separate the slices of ginger from clumping together. Set the bowl aside for 5 minutes.

Via osmosis, the salt helps to release some of the moisture from the ginger, and thereby some of the (sometimes overpowering) spiciness of the gingerol.

It also helps soften and tenderize the ginger as well to bring it closer to the texture of young ginger.

Step 8 - Prepare ginger marinade↑ Jump to details

To an empty bowl, add sugar and vinegar (5 tbsp). If your ginger is on the older side, add an extra tablespoon of sugar and vinegar each.

If you want, you can also add about 1/2 tsp of the red water solution we made for the eggs, which will give the ginger slices more of a pinkish color.

Step 9 - Rinse the salt from ginger↑ Jump to details

After 5 minutes of soaking, the ginger should be less spicy and more tender.

Rinse and wash the ginger in water for 20-30 seconds, and drain with a colander.

Squeeze the ginger against the colander to press out any excess water.

Step 10 - Marinate ginger overnight↑ Jump to details

We are almost there!

Combine the ginger marinade with the ginger, mix it around. Ideally, the ginger is fully submerged in the marinade mixture.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, place it in the fridge, and let it marinate overnight.

Step 11 - Take pictures
Whip out your camera (1). Begin taking photos (1,000,000). Pick your favorites!
Step 12 - Share and tag us on Instagram @madewithlau #madewithlau!
Did you have fun making this recipe? We'd love to see & hear about it. (Especially my dad. He would be THRILLED!)

The symbolism and meaning of Red Eggs and Ginger

During Cameron's Red Egg and Ginger party, I sat down with my mom and did a mini interview with her to understand the cultural significance of this tradition.

At a high level:

  • Eggs are a symbol of fertility, birth, and new beginnings in Chinese tradition.
  • Red is a symbol of happiness, good luck, and good fortune
  • Ginger is a traditional Chinese ingredient for moms recovering from birth, believed to help balance the mom's energies and qi.
    • Ginger is also considered to be sour, which sounds like the word for grandchild ("syūn" in Cantonese). So, it's a good omen for lots and lots of future grandkids.

Apart from the symbolism, my mom also touches on not having a lot of material wealth as a kid (much less than we have now, and certainly much less than her grandson).

Eggs were not an everyday commodity like they are now in most developed nations - my mom had to raise her own chickens to have access to eggs. She'd maybe eat eggs once or twice a year (on her birthday, and for Chinese New Year.)

Other Chinese traditions

For special occasions like this, my parents usually honor our ancestors with a handful of symbolic rituals like bowing with incense and burning spirit money, also known as joss paper.

This isn’t absolutely necessary to do for a red egg and ginger party, but I feel like it’s important to touch on. A big part of the motivation behind Made With Lau is to help celebrate and share our heritage with our son, our future kids, and all of you reading this.

If you're interested in learning more (or just getting a recap on what you might already know), read on!

Why do we bow with incense?

In my mom's words, we're just sending a big "thank you" to our ancestors and asking for their blessings. We're letting them know that we have a new life in the family, and we're asking them for their protection.

Also, we're just letting them know that we're doing well, and that we're happy :)

Traditional Chinese incense on Amazon

Why do we burn money?

Burning is a symbolic act of helping our ancestors stock up on supplies in the heavens. My dad typically burns "spirit money", or joss paper, as a symbol of sending them money to spend.

From Wikipedia:

Joss paper, also known as ghost or spirit money, are papercrafts or sheets of paper made into burnt offerings common in Chinese ancestral worship (such as the veneration of the deceased family members and relatives on holidays and special occasions). Worship of gods also uses a similar paper. Joss paper, as well as other papier-mâché items, are also burned or buried in various Asian funerals, "to ensure that the spirit of the deceased has lots of good things in the afterlife." In Taiwan alone, the annual revenue of temples received from burning joss paper was US$400 million (NT$13 billion) as of 2014.

Spirit money / joss paper on Amazon

Why do we offer our ancestors food? Which foods?

In addition to offering our ancestors money to spend in the heavens, we’re also offering them food to eat. 

Our ancestor’s three course meal includes chicken, fish, and Chinese sausage.

  • Chicken, or gāi 鸡, sounds like the phrase “hóu sai gaai 好世界”, which literally means good world, and represents a good life.
  • Fish, or yùh 鱼, sounds like the word for abundance, “yùh 餘”.
  • Chinese sausage has no symbolic word play. It just tastes good, and it’s red, which we already know stands for happiness and good fortune.

When plating these for our ancestors, it's important that the animals are whole, not chopped. Wholeness is a symbol of perfection, completeness.

Why do we offer our ancestors alcohol?

Like in most cultures, alcohol is meant to add to the festivities. In pouring our ancestors cups of alcohol, my mom explains that we're just inviting them to celebrate with us.

There's no one type of alcohol that's appropriate. My dad usually pours out Hennessy / Cognac (lol) because that's what my grandparents preferred.

What else do we need to plan a Red Egg and Ginger party?

As we mentioned, there are a lot of ways to celebrate this, and no right or wrong way. We're just sharing how our family does it :)

You can also host this at a Chinese banquet hall, which typically have red egg and ginger party packages. If this is the case, you won't need to worry about a lot of this stuff.

Here's an overview of what you might want or need if you're throwing your own party:

  • Red eggs and ginger (see recipe above)
  • Red baby outfit
    • I still get a kick out of seeing our cute little baby in his red outfit. We borrowed this from Kat's sister, who got it from Chinatown.
    • You can buy these on Amazon as well. Here's one designed for boys, and one designed for girls. There are lots of other options on Amazon and Etsy.
  • Red outfits for the parents
    • If you wanted to get dressed up in a more traditional style, you can wear a "cheongsam", aka Chinese formalwear.
    • Our friends at East Meets Dress have an incredible selection of dresses and shirts for both men and women :)
      • Finding these outfits can sometimes be a daunting experience, especially if you don't speak Chinese, so we love what they're doing to make this accessible for our generation.
      • If you're interested in supporting a fellow Asian American business, you can use code MADEWITHLAU10 for 10% off.
  • Red envelopes
    • Usually gifted to the baby and other nieces / nephews :)
  • Food, snacks, drinks
    • What you serve is really up to you.
    • My sister-in-law hosted an outdoor BBQ, which was a ton of fun.
  • Ideas for red & gold decor
    • Red tablecloth
    • Red and gold balloons
    • Gold photo frames
    • Drawings or figurines of the current Chinese zodiac animal. Since Cameron was born in the Year of the Rat, we had a few rats at our party.

All in all, don't stress too much about it! The main goal is just to have fun and celebrate a new life with your loved ones.

Enjoy!

Now, hopefully, you can create your own memories celebrating your loved ones.

Also, I cordially invite you to celebrate Cameron's 100 day party with us. There are a lot of heartfelt moments that we'll be treasuring forever :)

Cheers, and thanks for celebrating with us!

Feel free to comment below if you have any questions about the recipe or the traditions!