Thursday, February 5, 2009

Dan - Egg-zactly

I mentioned that zi 子, though it can mean egg, is not the character used for egg in Chinese dishes. The character for egg is dan 蛋.

You'll see it on Egg Drop Soup 蛋花湯 (which actually means "Egg Flower Soup"), and on the package of egg noodles I just bought today: 雞蛋面. (Pop quiz -- you've seen two of those three characters. What kind of eggs were used to make the noodles, and which of those characters must mean "noodles"?)

A great way for English speakers to remember dan is to look at the upper right corner. The strokes form a capital E, for "egg". Unfortunately, you can't always see it when the character is small. So I am also going to point you to the bottom half, which is our next radical: Chong, which means insect (and that will lead us to seafood).

The Pinyin spelling is dàn or dan4 (fourth tone).

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