The pidan was the first surprise in an evening full of culinary revelations. Trying preserved eggs had never featured high on my bucket list, so I approached the dish with trepidation. Small wedges of transformed duck eggs soon appeared at our table. Months of curing had turned the whites a gelatinous, translucent brown, while the yolks had acquired a (not terribly appetizing) gray hue. I braced myself for the punch of ammonia mentioned in every description of pidan I had ever read. But it never came. Instead, paired with a feisty accompaniment of sweet pickled ginger, the pidan acquired a deliciously complex flavor.