Asian Salt Eggs are delicious and easy to make at home. In the March 9 Seasonal Pantry, I promise to post my recipes for both Asian Salt Eggs and the Spicy Salt Egg Sauce I make using them in my blog, so here you go. (You can read the column here.) Both recipes are from my book, published in July, 2015, The Good Cook’s Book of Salt & Pepper.
Asian Salt Eggs • Makes 1 dozen
Salt eggs, made with duck or chicken eggs, are found throughout China and Southeast Asia. In Malaysia, I found baskets of what looked like black golf balls; they were salted chicken eggs with a thick coat of black ash to preserve them longer. Most of the ash is easily brushed off,and then the eggs can be soaked in cool water for a few minutes; wipe the wet eggs clean with a tea towel. The eggs are then hard-cooked, shelled, and served as an accompaniment to a variety of dishes. They may also be topped with a dressing of garlic, shallots, serranos, and lime juice, and served as a simple salad. They can also be fried. Although we no longer need this technique to preserve eggs, it produces a pleasantly intense flavor that is not duplicated by merely adding salt to fresh eggs.
- 1¼ cups kosher salt
- 4 quarts water
- 12 eggs
- Combine the salt and water in a large pot, bring to a boil, remove from the heat, and let cool completely.
- Place the eggs in a large earthenware or glass jar, pour the brine over the eggs, cover the jar with a tight-fitting lid, and store in a cool, dark cupboard or pantry for at least 4 weeks and up to 3 months.
- To use the eggs, boil them in tap water for about 12 minutes, until hard-cooked. Remove from the water, briefly rinse under cool water, and peel. Cut the eggs in quarters and use as a garnish or in specific recipe.
Spicy Salt Egg Sauce • Makes about ½ cup
This sauce, Thai in origin, is so good, one of those enticing combinations of flavors that calls out to you from the refrigerator at odd hours. Be careful, or you won’t have any to serve. Although the sauce is most intense when made with salted eggs, you can make a good version with fresh eggs; Just add more salt. The same is true with dried shrimp paste; it is a traditional ingredient but if you don’t have it, simply omit it and add another splash of fish sauce. I use Salt Egg Sauce on baked and grilled fish; it is also an excellent condiment with simple steamed rice, braised mustard greens, and sliced summer tomatoes.
- 4 Salt Eggs or 4 fresh eggs, hard-cooked and cooled
- 3 cilantro roots, washed and trimmed
- 4 garlic doves, crushed
- 2 serrano chiles, chopped
- 2 shallots, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried shrimp paste, optional
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- Juice of 2 limes
- 2 scallions, white and green part, trimmed and minced
- Peel the eggs, separate the whites from the yolks, and set the whites aside for another use.
- Press the yolks through a sieve, grate them on the small blade of a grater, or mash them with a fork and put them into a small bowl.
- Using a mortar and pestle or a suribachi, grind the cilantro roots and garlic until they form a paste. Add the serranos and shallots and continue to grind until they form a uniform and almost smooth paste. Add the shrimp paste, if using, and sugar, mix thoroughly, and then use a rubber spatula to fold in the egg yolks.
- Stir in the fish sauce and lime juice, transfer to a small serving bowl and fold in the scallions. Cover the sauce and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.