Salted egg is a traditional Chinese preserved food with a rich, umami taste and a creamy yellowish-orange centre. With its multifaceted flavours, this side dish can amp up the taste of many cuisines. It is also one of the go-to ingredients used by home-grown chefs, restaurant owners, and Asian foodies.
Although salted egg origin started in China, this savoury dish is now more popular in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. Since eating out is not always convenient, why not make this savoury dish at home?
Our salted egg recipe will show you the best two methods to make this side dish with affordable ingredients. Moreover, having this tasty condiment at home will save you money and time.
So sit back, grab your comfort beverages, and learn how to make salted eggs at home.
How Is Salted Egg Made?
Salted egg is made by putting duck eggs in a brine solution and then left to submerge completely for 30 to 60 days. The brine solution is made of saturated salt solution or vinegar.
During brining, the eggs will lose moisture while salt penetrates into their content. As time passes, the albumen turns watery and thin. Meanwhile, the yolk slowly hardens due to the rapid loss of moisture. Simply put, salt draws out moisture through osmosis and makes this side salty and firm.
The brining process doesn't make this side dish edible for raw consumption. However, if you make this savoury dish from pasteurised Japanese eggs, it is generally safe for raw consumption.
To eat a salted egg, you should boil it for 15 minutes. Frying is another easy way to cook salted egg. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to the frying pan, crack it and fry until it's cooked.
Two Methods: Salt vs. Vinegar
This savoury dish can be made using salt or vinegar. However, the best method to brine the egg is using salt because it is easy to make and gives this side dish a clean, salty taste. Our salted egg recipe will show you how to make this side dish using either method.
The salt-curing method is the process of submerging fresh duck eggs in a container filled with a concentrated salt solution. Then, it is left to sit at room temperature for 30 days.
This method is popular in many Asian countries like China, Hong Kong, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore. However, the Philippines uses salt along with clay and water to brine the eggs through a process called the Patheros method.
The Patheros method is a process of dipping raw duck eggs in a thick mixture of clay, salt, and water at a 1:1:2 ratio. They are also soaked in red dye to separate these eggs from the fresh ones. Then, they are wrapped in newspaper and left to sit at room temperature for 14 to 18 days.
The salt-curing method produces a firm, salty egg whites and yolks similar to salted eggs Filipino style. In addition, both types of salted eggs can be used in many cuisines and pastries.
The Vietnamese also add a little twist to the process of making this savoury dish. They will add star anise flowers, black cardamom pods, and whole black peppercorns into the brine solution. After 30 days, Vietnamese salted eggs will have a smoky, pungent, woody aroma and a richer salty taste.
Alternatively, you can dry-cure the yolk separately from the white part by covering it with salt. Then, keep it in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 weeks. Once cured, this savoury dish will have a disc-like shape with a rich, salty, and umami flavour.
Due to its flat shape, you can't use dry-cured yolk in a mooncake recipe that requires a round yolk. Instead, you can grate this tasty dish and use it as a garnish on Asian dishes, noodles, pasta, and desserts. Another drawback of dry-curing is that the process can become tedious to separate the egg yolk from the white when making a large batch.
Vinegar helps thin the eggshell and makes it easier for the salt to enter the eggs. This acidic solution will make the eggshell soft. Some parts of it may come off in the form of white residues. Once soaked, you need to transfer the egg to a brine solution and let it sit for 10 days.
The main difference between using salt and vinegar to brine eggs is that the vinegar method will shorten the curing period to 10 days. This method is commonly used in China, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines.
Vinegar won't make your salted duck egg sour. The short brining process also won't make this tasty dish as salty as the one cured using salt. Therefore, this method is convenient if you're short on time, and you can still use this side dish for many recipes.
You will need the following ingredients to make salted duck eggs:
- Chinese hard liquor (optional)
Many people commonly use duck egg to make this savoury dish because its white part offers a bold salty taste and a chewy texture. The rich, creamy taste of the fat content in its yolk also makes duck eggs the best choice for salted egg yolk.
Alternatively, you can use chicken egg to make this side dish. A chicken egg has a smaller yolk and a less firm texture than a duck egg. The eggshell is thin and absorbs the brine solution in 30 days.
Another substitute that you can use is quail egg. This small egg has a smooth, velvety texture with a large yolk-to-white ratio. The ideal ratio to get the same serving when replacing quail with duck egg is 3:1.
When it comes to salted egg calories, you will get a whopping 130 kcal with 1 salted duck egg, 63 kcal with 1 chicken egg, and 15 kcal with 1 quail egg. However, the chicken egg is much healthier with a lower fat content.
Duck egg works best in our salted egg recipe because it is more porous and can absorb more salt. Most century egg recipes also use duck egg because it has a creamier consistency and a more custardy taste from its large yolk-to-white ratio.
Our salted egg recipe uses fine table salt that is affordable and easy to find. As most salts taste similar, you are free to use other variations like Himalayan pink or sea salt.
However, you must buy the finely ground type that can easily dissolve in water. The reason why you should avoid coarse salts is that these types have rougher shapes and sharp edges. Hence, they can easily pierce and break the yolk.
The ideal ratio for brining 2 eggs is 2 cups of water for ½ cup of salt.
Distilled white vinegar works best in thinning and softening the eggshells. It is the purest form of vinegar, made from 95% water and 5% acetic acid. This colourless acidic solution has a neutral scent and a mild tangy flavour.
Another substitute that you can use in this salted egg recipe is rice vinegar. Rice vinegar is made from fermented rice and water with a mildly sweet taste and subtle fruity scent. However, this vinegar is less acidic than the distilled type.
You need 4 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar and 2 cups of water for 2 eggs. If you use rice vinegar, mix 5 tablespoons of this solution with 2 cups of water to get the same level of acidity.
Chinese Hard Liquor
Chinese hard liquor or baijiu is a colourless distilled alcohol with a strong earthy scent and sweet and sour flavour. It is the strongest Chinese white liquor with a high alcohol content of 40% to 60%. You can use this alcohol to replace vinegar.
The purpose of using baijiu is to remove any bacteria on the eggshells. Its higher alcohol percentage can soften the shells and fasten the brining process.
Furthermore, baijiu doesn't leave any lasting aroma or alter the taste and texture of this savoury dish. However, this alcohol is hard to find and expensive. So, if you don't have to use it if you're on a budget.
If you use baijiu, the ideal ratio for 2 eggs is 2 tablespoons of this alcohol for 2 cups of water.
How to Make Salted Eggs Step by Step (Salt)
To make salted duck eggs from scratch, rinse 2 eggs thoroughly and pat them dry. Then, examine the shell for any cracks or defects that can spoil the eggs during the brining process. Discard if you found any and replace them with good ones.
Next, pour 2 cups of water and ½ cup of fine table salt into a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir until the salt is completely dissolved. Then, set this brine solution aside and let it cool.
In the meantime, transfer the eggs into a clean mason jar. Once the brine solution has cooled down, pour it into the jar. Then, shove and fill the top part of the jar with parchment paper to ensure that the eggs are fully submerged. Parchment paper helps in filling the gaps on the top half of the jar. In turn, there is no space for the eggs to move or float. Finally, cover the lid tightly and let them brine in the refrigerator for 30 days.
The minimum time you need for the brining process is a month. Ideally, the most optimal time to get a rich salty egg white and creamy yolk is 60 days.
After a month, you can take 1 egg out and check its texture. To cook salted egg, boil it over medium heat for 15 minutes. Then, cut it in half and taste whether it is firm or salty.
How to Make Salted Eggs With Vinegar
You can also use vinegar in our salted egg recipe to shorten the brining period. For 2 eggs, mix 4 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar with 2 cups of water in a bowl. Then, soak the eggs in the vinegar mixture for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, you can prepare the brine solution by doing the same step as using salt. After 20 minutes, remove the eggs from the vinegar mixture, rinse and pat them dry. Then, transfer them into the brine solution.
Shove and fill the top half of the jar with parchment paper to prevent the eggs from floating. Then, close the lid and store the jar in the refrigerator for 10 days.
The minimum brining time you need for this method is 10 days. Ideally, the optimal time to make sure this side dish is completely salty, firm, and ready for consumption is 30 days.
How to Make Salted Egg Yolk
To make salted egg yolk, you must dry-cure the yolks separately from the whites. You also need at least 500 grams of fine table salt to make this savoury dish. Avoid using coarse or large salts that can pierce and break this side dish.
First, take a clean large container and fill it with 2 inches of salt. Then, break the eggs in a bowl and gently remove the yolks using a spoon or a separator tool.
Next, place the yolks carefully into the container and don't put each one too close. Pour more salt until they are completely covered. Then, refrigerate everything overnight.
The next day, take the container out and brush the salt off this savoury dish using a pastry brush. You will also notice that the yolks are firm yet sticky with a bright yellowish-orange hue.
Then, carefully remove the yolks from the container and rinse them in a bowl of water to remove any salt residues. Pat them gently using parchment paper to remove any moisture. Then, refrigerate this side dish for 2 to 3 days to make it dry and completely firm.
Alternatively, you can dry this savoury dish in an oven if you need to use it quickly. First, place parchment paper inside a baking tray and put this savoury dish on top. Then, bake them in an oven for 90 minutes at 90°C. Remove the yolks from the oven and let them cool before using.
- Brining this savoury dish in the refrigerator is better due to little or no temperature fluctuation. However, if you store this side dish at room temperature, place it in a clean, cool cabinet and away from sunlight.
- You can reuse the leftover salt from the salt-cured eggs. However, you must remove any moisture by heating the salt in the oven at 50°C for 5 minutes before using.
- Since the vinegar mixture can slightly dissolve the eggshells, you can't reuse it because its strength, consistency, and purity have changed and decreased.
You can use this savoury dish as fillings in many baked goods, such as lotus mooncakes, lava buns (Liu Sha Bao), steamed paus, and steamed custard buns (Nai Wong Bao). For these dishes, you should avoid using salted egg yolk made from the dry-curing method because it doesn't have a round shape like the one made from the salt and vinegar methods.
Certain Filipino dishes also incorporate this side dish with tomato salad, potato chips, and fish sauce, then pair with grilled or fried food. In addition, this preserved dish's rich umami and salty taste also accentuate the flavour of many Chinese recipes. These include chicken congee, zongzi, stir-fried prawns and chickens, deep-fried fish skin, and stir-fried squids.
You can also go the extra mile and turn this savoury dish into a versatile sauce and use it in salted egg recipes breakfast like mantou, cream puffs, and toast sandwiches.
If you’re a fan of English-style breakfast, you can serve this side dish alongside sausages, bacon, toast, and hash browns.
How Long Do Salted Eggs Last?
Once brined, you can transfer this savoury dish into an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. This shelf-life applies to both cooked and uncooked eggs.
Alternatively, you can place this side dish in a vacuum-packed bag and freeze it for up to 3 months. When freezing, the white part will turn rubbery and slightly unpleasant to eat. So, it is better to freeze the yolk only.
You should also defrost the frozen salted eggs overnight before using them to soften their texture. But if you're short on time, just soak them in a bowl of warm water 1 hour before using.
How to Make Salted Egg
- 2 raw duck eggs
- ½ cup fine table salt
- 2 cups water
- Rinse 2 raw duck eggs thoroughly and pat them try. Check for any cracks or defects on the shells. Discard if you found any and replace them with good ones.
- Pour 2 cups of water and ½ cup of fine table salt into a saucepan. Bring the brine solution to a boil and stir to dissolve the salt. Then, set it aside to cool.
- Transfer the eggs to the brine solution. Fill the top part of the jar with parchment paper to ensure that the eggs are completely submerged.
- Close the lid and store your salted eggs in the refrigerator for 30 days.
Calories have been calculated using an online calculator. Nutritional information offered on Honest Food Talks is for general information purposes and are only rough estimations.
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