Salted Eggs: Is it worth its salt?

03 April 2016

From traditional dim sum restaurants to trendy cafes, the salted egg is suddenly everywhere, with queues forming right behind it. We get behind this food trend.

In recent years we have seen a rise in the use of salted egg, from the relatively new use in molten salted egg croissants to the common use in salted egg squid. This ingredient of humble origin has exploded all over the scene from the use in traditional Chinese recipes to bakeries all over Kuala Lumpur. What is so special about these eggs and how is it affecting the salted egg industry?

Salted Egg Yolk Burger from myBurgerLab

Salted egg has been used in many traditional Asian dishes, as a filling in salted egg custard buns in dim sum and mooncakes in Chinese cuisine, to served as is as a side dish in many Malay dishes. This simple savoury ingredient packs a nice flavourful punch and is found to be extremely tantalising on the tastebuds. Lau Yee Hang, Marketing Manager of Lai Hin Trading, a company specialising in the supplying of salted eggs, has definitely noted a change in the industry.

“There has been an increase in demand of salted eggs, but we have been able to accommodate the increase in demand. An increase is seen in the use by bakeries in pastries.”

These eggs are traditionally prepared in a mixture of brine and salted charcoal. The eggs are first submerged in a brine, then coated in salted charcoal. Some recipes suggest that the eggs are boiled as well, but this is a preference. This is believed to extend its shelf life which can last over a month to retain its “freshness”.

Salted eggs generally are made from chicken or duck eggs. Duck eggs were traditionally used because they used to be cheaper than chicken eggs, and is also believed to have a more pronounced flavour as well as a bigger yolk.  

There are two main flavour components to salted eggs, where the egg white is predominantly saltier and lighter, while the yolk carries a more pungent umami flavour. Salted egg yolk is the main ingredient in many dishes that give that molten grainy salted egg custard filling.

Salted Egg Yolk Cronut from Dotty's

Salted Egg Yolk Croissant from Le Bread Days

“We have generally seen an increase in a demand for chicken eggs over these few years since it has become trendy, but not the same for duck eggs. Duck eggs are mainly used for mooncake production because of the bigger yolk but not in general use.”

A reason that this ingredient has become widespread is because it is extremely cost effective and readily available. There doesn’t to seem to be a slowing down in the consumption and demand of salted eggs, and if anything, we are finding new ways to interpret this ingredient. As the salted egg trend does not seem to be subsiding, we can only expect to see more variations of this dish, and hopefully, we do not run out soon.

By Nicholas Ng


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