Steamed, savoury, three-egg custard is a humble Chinese home-cooked dish. Fresh chicken eggs are gently beaten with a little water to lighten the texture then chopped, salted duck egg and thousand-year egg are added for flavour and richness. Once cooked, the dish is garnished with chopped spring onion and flavoured with light soy sauce. This dish is trickier to make than it sounds: if too much water is added to the eggs, the custard won't set; if the steam is too hot, the texture turns coarse; if the wrong grade of thousand-year egg is used, the dish becomes a grey mess.
The best wine with this dish needs to be texturally driven, with plenty of deep flavours. Harmony, balance and complexity in the wines will perch high and bright on the egg custard canvas.
Kumeu River Pinot Gris 2005, Kumeu River, New Zealand
This pinot gris comes from one of New Zealand's foremost boutique wineries. The cool-climate has the classic oiliness and melts well into the silky, egg-custard texture. The wine is lightly perfumed and richly fruity - it tastes like a fruity custard and contrasts with the savoury notes of the eggs. The occasional burst of salted egg richness is well handled by the sweet fruit and balanced acidity. The usually difficult-to-match thousand-year egg gives the combination a lightly awkward yet refreshingly tangy note and depth. Add a little high-quality sesame oil to bring the wine and custard closer together.
Available for $210 from Wine'n'Things (tel: 2873 5733)
Glenmorangie Single Highland Malt, Ten Years Old, Scotland
Nothing is more outrageously unconventional than pairing this single malt with the Chinese staple. The Glenmorangie is chosen over other, equally famous, single malts because it's complete and well balanced. There are no edges to cut into the custard's roundness. The balanced and harmonised oak sets a subtle base tone without careless contrasts. The egg custard is the perfect canvas for the whisky's complex flavours to shine. The salted egg gives a useful platform to show off the freshness. This 10-year-old is strangely tangy and binds well with the black egg with little flavour deviation, and adds interest. Serve the Glenmorangie straight from the fridge or ice bucket.
Available for $465 from Riche Monde (tel: 2976 1888)
Calera Mt Harlen Viognier 2003, Central Coast, California
Viognier is known for its delightful aromatics and viscous texture. This is a classy, restrained and elegant version. There's plenty of fragrant jasmine and pears on the nose. It has some oak for warmth, complexity and richness. These qualities bind well with the silky egg custard. The wine highlights the custard's richness and the two melt seamlessly into each other. The 14.5 per cent alcohol is instrumental in two areas: it gives the wine a slightly creamy texture, which brings it closer to the custard; and it interacts well with the salted and black eggs - their richness is brought to the foreground, but carefully controlled.
Available for $570 from Golden Gate Wine (tel: 2891 8121)