Chinese

Join Me on My Journey to Salted Egg Yolks

October 13, 2016

Two days ago I embarked on a month-long journey to salted egg yolks. Unlike the methods outlined on Epicurious and Bon Appétit and Saveur and Tasting Table, where yolks are essentially laid out to dry in a blanket of sugar and salt, these salted eggs from the blog Just as Delish are brined whole in a salt water solution.


I dissolved salt in hot water (1 cup salt to 4 cups water), added 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine to the cooled solution, and poured it over whole raw eggs snuggled into a jar. I put a water-filled plastic bag on top to keep the eggs submerged, then sealed the container. Now it's a waiting game.

I'll crack one open on November 11, and I ask you to keep your fingers crossed that the yolks are cheddar-orange, shiny, and slightly squishy (like in the Pin above)—and ready to roll up into a babka or, my real motivation, mash into a sauce for fried pumpkin.

Please excuse that pile of books in the background.

Even though salted egg yolks have gotten attention in U.S. food media in the past year, Wei Tchou points out in Saveur that there's nothing new about them: "in fact, people have been fawning over salted egg yolks for centuries—just on the other side of the world."

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For Tchou, the daughter of Chinese immigrants raised in the American South,

home wasn’t home without a jar of duck eggs preserved the traditional Chinese way, whole and raw in brine. Over the course of weeks, the salt water drew out moisture, concentrating the egg’s rich flavor and rendering the whites creamy and as saline as the brackish water the egg is set in. The yolks hardened into bright orange spheres, the fattiness thick and concentrated, cut through by a whisper of salt.

Now I'll try my hand—and my patience—at a cooking technique people have been practicing for centuries. Your advice and suggestions are welcome!

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Top Comment:
“In Singapore, I would have salted egg yolks fairly often, but they would come from a blue-tinged duck egg with the white still around them. My friends would tell me not to bother with the white because it's just too salty to eat and, after trying it, I had to agree. I'm sure there's good use for it, though. Congee with the yolk, some scallions, and dark chicken meat sounds pretty good now. Best of luck! I look forward to a follow up article. No idea if the crack means anything bad, but my guess is that you don't touch it until you're done and just throw that egg away.”
— Natalie R.
Comment

My first question: One of my eggs has already cracked: Am I doomed? Should I start over?

Have you made salt-cured egg yolks? If so, which method did you use? Tell me in the comments!

8 Comments

HalfPint October 15, 2016
Cooked the cracked egg now. Not going to be salty but should be ok. I usually eat salted eggs with either cooked rice or rice porridge. This is comfort food.<br /><br />Thinking outside the box, leverage the saltiness in a blander dish like potato or chicken salad. Or a double egg salad. There's a Persian chicken potato salad that uses Persian pickles that are not salty than vinegary. I think you can use the eggs in that.
 
YenWhite October 14, 2016
Hi Sarah, I've been brining my own duck eggs for a while now because the only ones available for purchase here in the US come hardcooked, which are not always how I need my salted eggs (for example, when uncooked, these eggs make a really good "seasoning" for ground pork). I have found that there are many recipes out there that call for spices such as star anise, and seasonings like shaoxing wine, and I've tried them all, finding them to be extraneous (and/or overpowering). The trickiest part of this endeavour is really adjusting the brining period to suit your own tastebuds, and it can range from 30-60 days. (As for cracked ones, you might have to discard them because direct exposure to the brine renders the egg inedibly salty.)<br /><br />As a transplanted Singaporean, I am sorry to have missed a sort of salted egg yolk renaissance that seems to have taken off there in the last few years. While it isn't new to us, salted egg yolks are enjoying a renewed interest where it is used in anything from filling sweet buns to seasoning sauces (see https://guide.michelin.sg/en/salted-egg-yolks for a sampling of what people have been doing with it, including using it in cocktails). Its appeal may lie not just in how it lends a simultaneously unctuous and umami flavour to anything it touches, but also in how very versatile it is. If you've ever had a piece a well-aged gouda and delighted in the tyrosine crystals that fleck the cheese, then you'll know what i mean.<br /><br />I'm so excited to see you introduce this traditional Chinese ingredient to your readers, and look forward to more articles about it! SALTED EGG YOLK FTW
 
Maureen W. October 13, 2016
Why does it look like there are 2 boiled eggs with hard whites and dark orange yolks in the background but in the bowl it looks like runny egg whites with a dark orange yolk? Are you supposed to boil these eggs after brining them. I don't want to eat them raw! How long does the brining take?<br />Maureen From Toronto
 
Andrew G. October 13, 2016
Hi Maureen, please read from the beginning.
 
Stone October 14, 2016
I've read this at least four times and I have the same question as Maureen.
 
HalfPint October 18, 2016
Yes, you need to boil these after brining.
 
JG October 13, 2016
Interested to hear what happens! I am starting to LOVE fermenting just about anything I can get my hands on.
 
Natalie R. October 13, 2016
I didn't know people even cured the yolks by themselves. In Singapore, I would have salted egg yolks fairly often, but they would come from a blue-tinged duck egg with the white still around them. My friends would tell me not to bother with the white because it's just too salty to eat and, after trying it, I had to agree. I'm sure there's good use for it, though. Congee with the yolk, some scallions, and dark chicken meat sounds pretty good now. Best of luck! I look forward to a follow up article. No idea if the crack means anything bad, but my guess is that you don't touch it until you're done and just throw that egg away.