Ever since I saw all those tea eggs in Taiwan, I have been obsessed with doing my version. My first attempt, made with tea leaves, yielded sickly looking marbled eggs. Thinking I should perfect the hue of the marbling first before attempting to perfect the part about infusing flavors, I practiced using food color. I came up with two red-veined eggs and two green-veined eggs. Pretty. Christmassy even. But they tasted like ordinary hard-boiled eggs. So, one time, I was cooking adobo and I was worried that I didn’t have enough pork to satisfy everyone. It isn’t uncommon to add hard-boiled eggs to extend the adobo and that was when the inspiration hit me — hard-boiled eggs cooked in adobo sauce following the Chinese tea egg principle.
To make adobo eggs, well, you have to happen to be cooking adobo first. Even if you boil the eggs in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic and pepper, they won’t have the richness and body that can only come from a sauce in which meat has been braising for at least an hour.
Start by first boiling the eggs in plain water. Boil for only a minute — just long enough for the outermost part of the egg whites to solidify. Next, take the eggs out of the water and tap the shells all over with the back of a spoon. It is through these cracks that the adobo sauce will seep in to create the marbling effect. That’s why pre-boiling the eggs is important. If you crack the shells while the eggs are raw, the eggs will seep through the cracks and there won’t be anything left to cook in the adobo sauce.
When all the shells have been cracked, uncover your still simmering but otherwise cooked adobo, push the meat (or chicken) to the sides and place the eggs at the center of the pan. Simmer for ten minutes or so, rolling the eggs every two to three minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the eggs there for another 15 minutes or so.
For best results, shell the eggs just before serving the adobo.
Notes: While adobo is always better the day after, if there are leftover eggs and they are chilled together with the meat and sauce, they are likely to acquire a uniform dark color in parts that are in contact with the sauce. I bet they’ll taste even better but they won’t look as pretty.