Sunday, September 26, 2010

Homemade Salted Eggs (鹹蛋)

Salted eggs are normally brined duck eggs. Chinese people use them to make moon cakes(月餅), glutinous rice dumplings (粽子) and many other dishes. Some families I know, like to steam salted eggs that go with congee for breakfast.

In my good old days, salted duck eggs are often sold covered in a thick layer of salted charcoal paste. Nowadays, the producers might know how to do marketing and give the humble salted eggs a nicer presentation. The salted duck eggs I come across here recently almost have the salted paste removed, wrapped in plastic, or vacuum packed. The best salted eggs should have a briny aroma, translucent egg white, with the yolk bright orange-red in colour. The yolk that releases oil after being cooked is considered as a high quality product.

Sadly, here in Australia, it’s quite hard to find fresh duck eggs, yet it’s much easier to get some cooked ones. Weird, isn’t it? If any fresh duck eggs put on rack for sale in any Asian grocery stores, they would be gone very quickly.

As I have been missing and craving this homey food very much, I brined a dozen and then cooked several traditional Chinese dishes with the salted eggs. Would you like to know what dishes I cooked? I'll post them in a series later on.

 International Incident Eggs Party

I was glad to hear that Penny of Addictive and Consuming and Trix of Tasty Trix would host an International Egg Incident Party. Lucky enough I can manage myself to participate this time. Here in this post, I share an easy way to make salted eggs at home. This time I used chicken eggs. If you can find fresh duck eggs, that’s even better. But I found the end result of using chicken eggs was very satisfied. This recipe was tested for many times. Not long before, I shared this recipe with my Chinese readers, all salted egg lovers were fascinated and many of them tried it on the next day they read my recipe with satisfied outcomes. Here’s a picture of my fan's salted egg. She shared her joy with me when she successfully made some delicious salted eggs.

Homemade Salted Eggs01

Homemade Salted Eggs (Printable recipe)

Ingredients:
  • 12 duck eggs (or chicken eggs)
  • 1 cup sea salt (or rock salt)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tbsp Shaoxing wine
  • 1 star anise
  • 2 tsp Sichuan peppercorns
Sichuan Pepper & Star Anise

Method:
  1. Rinse the eggs and drain well. Set aside.
  2. Put water and salt in a saucepan. Add star anise and Szechwan peppercorns. Bring it to a boil. Once the salt completely dissolves, turn off the heat. Let cool completely.
  3. Pour in the wine and stir well.
  4. Use a clean glass container, carefully arrange the eggs in the container. (Note: check every egg to make sure there are no cracks on it.) Pour salted water into the container and cover the eggs. You’ll notice some eggs above would float to the surface, so place something, like a little sauce plate on top of the eggs. The basic idea is to get all eggs submerse completely in the brine. Tightly cover the container and place at room temperature. The brining process normally takes 30 to 40 days. Label the start and finish dates on the container to remind yourself. (I used google calendar to set an email alert to myself.) After 30 days, take one egg out to cook and see if its taste is salty enough. If not, let the rest to brine for a few days more. If you’re satisfied, drain all eggs out and wipe dry. Keep them in an egg carton and place in fridge. The salted eggs can be kept for a few weeks in fridge.
Homemade Salted Eggs Procedures

Notes:
  • Before placing the eggs in the container, do make sure all the eggs are not broken or have any cracks.
  • If you don’t have star anise and Sichuan peppercorns, you can replace with any tea leaves you like when cooking the salted water. The egg shells would look darker, infused by the fragrance of the tea you used.
  • The egg yolks would turn orange-red beautifully because of the effect of adding Shaoxing wine.
Homemade Salted Eggs02


62 comments :

  1. Yay, thanks for sharing the recipe. Recently I have been looking for salted egg recipes so I can make some in the future. However, I was always confused about whether or not you were supposed to leave them outside at room temperature or keep them in the fridge. So thanks for the clarification. Also one more thing. How do the eggs keep from spoiling? Is it because of the salt? Can you keep them in direct sunlight or no? Thanks again.

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  2. I would love to try these unique salted eggs! This is a new one for me!

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  3. I saw some big duck eggs at a Chinese grocery store and bought a couple. The next day I went back to buy some more and discovered that what I bought had a little duck inside! That's not what I want. I cracked one open and the little duck has feather on it. No way!. I threw away all of them. I found regular duck eggs at another market. Costs U.S. $0.89 each. Too pricey. I'd love to try your recipe using chicken eggs.

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  4. That orange red egg yolk looks amazing - what a vivid colour!

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  5. I love salted eggs and these look delicious. The yolk is brilliant!

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  6. To x3baking,
    When the eggs are still in the brining process, I often keep them at room temperature, not in a place that is hot, such as avoiding from direct sunshine light, just a cool place.

    Once the eggs have been successfully brined, all should be drained out, and keep them in fridge so that they can be kept longer.

    To 5 Star Foodie,
    I think you'd love it if you like salted eggs.

    To Wendy,
    Yikes! Duck with feathers inside the duck egg!
    Duck eggs are much more expensive than chicken eggs. The worst thing is that it's very hard to find fresh ones here.

    To Jo - SecondHelping,
    The salted egg yolk is my most favourite part.

    To Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets,
    Thank you.

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  7. I've been waiting for this post ever since you tweeted it. I always had this impression it was difficult to make salted eggs - turns out it isn't that hard! Thanks for the tips and secrets. BTW, if there a David Jones in Brisbane? If yes, I usually get fresh duck eggs from there.

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  8. To Trissa,
    Thanks for the heads up. We do have David Jones in Brisbane. But they don't have any grocery departments or whatsoever that sell eggs. Too bad.

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  9. Someone told me the boiled balut duck eggs is a Vietnamese delicacy. I found a recipe in Kiki Rice recipe blog. These eggs were very big and I thought I was going to have really big duck egg yolk!

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  10. Im going to make my own salted duck eggs. The colour of the yolk is amazing!
    There is a egg stall here that sells fresh duck eggs. I usually just buy and poached them... rich and googey!

    Thanks for joining the party!

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  11. That yolk colour is really quite stunning, like a jewel! I haven't eaten salted egg very often, and not for a long time, so you've inspired me to hunt some down soon (or maybe even make some.. we'll see!).

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  12. I never knew this is how they make salted eggs.

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  13. I still buy my salted eggs, but I think I really should give it a try - to make salted eggs at home I mean, especially because it doesn't sound so hard...Thanks for sharing Christine...! Btw, the picture of the egg yolk above, is it after cooking? If not, how long do you need to cook the salted egg before you can eat it?

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  14. To Cooking Gallery,
    The picture of the egg yolk above was raw, before cooking. (Here’s the picture of a cooked salted egg by my fan. You can take a look how a cooked one looks like.) The cooking time depends on how big your salted eggs are and the way you use to cook them. If you steam or poach the whole salted eggs with the shell on, the cooking time would be about 15 to 20 minutes, because we don't want uncooked egg yolk inside. But if you break the shell first, it only takes 10 to 12 minutes to get the egg yolk cooked, salted egg white is quick to be cooked, only 1 to 2 minutes. My mum used to cook salted eggs with hairy gourd (a kind of Hong Kong style soup). She put in the egg yolk first with the cooked hairy gourd, when the soup is almost done, then she add the salted egg white. After one or two minutes, she'd turn off the heat.

    Hope it helps.

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  15. Hi Christine,

    I don't have Shaoxing wine handy. Can I substitute it with anything else or it is a key ingredient? Thank you!

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  16. Thanks for sharing something from your past - I'm so glad to have learned how to make this!!

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  17. To Michelle Hsu,
    The Shaoxing wine is the key ingredient to make the yolk turn oily and orange-red in colour.

    If you don't have Shaoxing wine, you can replace with other good quality white rice wine.

    You might omit the wine and still can make salted eggs. But the egg yolk won't be as good as we expect.

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  18. I'm loving this egg party. Am being introduced to so many new ways to prepare eggs. Salted eggs are very new to me, but i love the bright orange hue of the yolk. Thanks for sharing.

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  19. This is a new egg recipe for me. I've never had the pleasure of trying them but they sound tasty. Thanks for sharing.

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  20. very unique for me amazing !bravo to you!

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  21. Thanks for the recipe, Christine. I always thought making salted eggs would be more complicated. Love the colour of that egg yolk! I didn't know it's shaoxing that makes it that colour!

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  22. I should share this with my mil since she likes salted egg so that she can make herself :). Thanks for sharing.

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  23. I would never have known it was shaoxing wine. I LOVE an orangey, oily yolk. Gorgeous!!!

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  24. Ooooh...I love this. My mom used to make lots of salted duck eggs...so good with porridge. I used to make when I first came to Scotland. I can get fresh duck eggs easily here...lucky me :D I have to make again. I will add wine next time. Thanks very much for the tip.

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  25. I didn't know it's possible to make your own salted eggs at home. looks great!

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  26. I used to make them myself too. And it's quite easy to get duck eggs here. I didn't put any wine nor star anise though. Have to try again next time and add wine..

    Your egg yolk is extremely glossy and red, nice..

    Btw, you know how to make your own century egg? I'm trying to find a recipe, especially one that doesn't need lab chemical.

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  27. omg! That yolk looks so pretty!

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  28. Thanks so much for this recipe. I am been meaning to make my own salted eggs. I love salted eggs and have been so disappointed that I cant find any salted eggs here in USA. They are all ready boiled and packed.

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  29. Wow! Your salted eggs look even better than the ones I bought in the wet market. Somemore you used chicken eggs instead of duck eggs. It's amazing!!! ;)

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  30. Can't find the duck eggs here either...so I also used chicken eggs...well, I can live with that.

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  31. Would it be possible to use red wine instead of Shaoxing wine or rice wine with same effect? What is the purpose of Shaoxing wine? Is it acidity or added colour or alcohol? Thank you.

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  32. Wow! Salted Chicken eggs looked fantastic! Glad I stumbled on your blog today! Will try this out soon.

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  33. Hi! Just seeing the colour of the salted egg yolk makes me feel like cooking a bowl of porridge to go with it...Btw, what is the purpose of the star anise and sichuan peppercorns or tea leaves?

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  34. To itep,
    the purpose of the star anise and sichuan peppercorns is to add fragrance. :)

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  35. Hi,my jar only allow 5 chicken eggs ,so do i add half of the ingredient.Thanks

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  36. Hello Christine, i just want to ask if Shaohsing wine is same as Shaoxing wine? i went to chinese store and i can't find it, i can only see Shaohsing cooking wine. Thanks a lot!

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  37. Hi,my jar can only contain 5 eggs,how much of each ingredient do you think i should use.Thanks

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  38. To Anonymous,
    Yes, they are the same. It's the spelling different.

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  39. To Cindy,
    If your container is not big enough, scale all ingredients down by half then. The basic principle is to get all your eggs completely soaked and covered by salted water.

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  40. Hi Christine.. Thank you very much for sharing the Salted Egg recipe. i tried it with chicken eggs and added a small cinnamon stick to the brine solution as well, it was a success.. the yolk were just as red and though it is smaller than duck eggs, it tastes just as good. This is the first time i tried making salted egg.. and all turn out very nice and fragrant too. I will certainly make it again. Best regards, Pat

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  41. we bought a dozen double-yolk duck eggs. we only used salt and water. the yolk came out very loose (powdery) and yellow in color after boiled. the cooked yolk resembled that of a hard boiled chicken egg yolk.

    how can we get that orange-red color yolk w/o wine?

    i don't know the ratio between water and salt since i didn't brine them. do you suggest we start over with a new batch of salt water, but with the existing eggs?

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  42. @Anonymous:
    You're not using my recipe, are you?

    The ratio of water and salt I used in this recipe, water: salt = 4:1
    with brining days around 35 to 40 days. If you use higher ratio, the days of brining would be different.
    I suggest you to brine your eggs with another new batch of salt wate. Beware that you have to adjust the brining days as your eggs are a bit salty already.

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  43. Hi Christine, where do you live in Australia? I live in Sydney and not difficult to buy fresh Duck eggs. I just bought 20 Jumbo duck eggs costs A$12 at Flemington market, Sydney. Accidently I broke one and found why they are so big, as they are double yolk! Lucky I found you and will try the method tonight~ Regards, Bernadette

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  44. Hello, I had a friend who used to salt eggs but I didn't think she cooked them afterwards, just used them with cheese, bikkies and the like. Is it necessary to cook them?

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  45. @Anonymous
    The salted eggs are still raw. They should be cooked for the sake of our health. After cooked, the texture and taste of the salted eggs would be even better.

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  46. @Anonymous
    I'm glad I hear somebody eat them raw. I'd like to try them raw too.

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  47. Hi during the process of brining, I have these fungi formed on top of the brine water...is it normal? The fungi looks like black dot with white colour around it. I did not use the star anise and peppercorns. Please help what should I do to save my salted egg...

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  48. @Anonymous:
    It shouldn't have any fungi in the brine water. I'm afraid that you have to discard the eggs for it might have been polluted.

    The eggs should be rinsed and dry thoroughly before putting in the brine water. Actually, the brine water is highly salted water that most bacteria can't survive in it.

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  49. where do you get such a large jar to put the eggs in?

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  50. @Anonymous:
    I bought it from HK. You might like to try Ikea. They've got many glass containers in different sizes.

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  51. Can I reuse the salted water for a new batch of eggs since it is still extremely salty? Thank you ever so much!

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  52. My mom used to make salted duck eggs. There was a duck farm that used to be near us and they would sell us double yolk eggs when they sorted. Also there is double the yolk, which has more flavor than the white. BTW double yolk duck or chicken, don't mature properly for both chicks to survive. The farm closed about 10 years ago, due to re-zoning.

    I've been able to get Organic Duck eggs from a farmer's market, but they sell for $10 a doz. I would suggest that your readers look for local duck farms in their area. There is one breed of duck in California, that lays eggs as much as chickens.

    I would like to add, that 1gallon glass pickle jars works great.

    Thanks for your recipe, I will give it a try.

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  53. Just in case your readers find the eggs a bit over salted. Putting them in clean fresh water for a few days will unsalt them slightly.

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  54. If you find a black egg or dark egg by candling the eggs (hold them up to a light), after salting them. Throw it out, it's most likely gone bad.

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  55. I am going to try your recipe...I have ducks and am buried in duck eggs! These girls beat my chickens by a mile when it comes to quantity!

    Hey...I sell my duck eggs to friends here in southern California for $4/dozen...they are huge, I even have light green ones, purplish ones and white to cream...no double yolks yet. =-)

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  56. Can I place duck eggs in the brine and keep them in the fridge? I live in a very hot environment and even a dark cool place is often 30 degrees C or 85 degrees F. Does it prevent the eggs from properly brining if they are refrigerated? Or is it safe to keep the eggs brining at such a warm room temperature? Thanks for your help!

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  57. @Anonymous:
    I see. The ideal environment for brining eggs is not over 30C, or under 10C. Actually, the highly saturated salty water can preserve the eggs.

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  58. Thanks for the recipe. I was wondering can the solution/brine be reused for the next lot of eggs. If yes, do I have to reboil it or add water to it?
    Thanks.

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    1. I won't prefer to reuse the brine solution as some of the salt inside is absorbed by the eggs, but you don't know how much of salt you lost. So you have no idea of how many water you have to add.
      The second batch of end products won't be as good as expected.

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  59. Is it okay to put the eggs in smaller jars and cover with salted water? If okay, will the brining process of 30 to 40 days still be the same?
    Thanks!

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    1. With smaller jars, you might put less eggs with less salted water. But the brining process also needs to take about 30 to 40 days. Well, the size of the eggs, not the size of jar used, matters.

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