Salt-Cured Egg Yolks
A classic Asian technique for eggs, these quick-cured egg yolks will add an umami boost to soups, salads, rice, pasta and even avocado toast.
The days leading to our departure for a last-minute tropical Thanksgiving were a hectic blur. What with cleaning out the refrigerator, the laundry, the bills, tidying up for our house sitter, moving dozens of succulent arrangements in the yard in anticipation of rain, packing, it took some effort to keep the stress under control and get into the aloha spirit. I also tried to knock off two holiday recipes to share while we were away but time just wouldn’t allow it.
The recipes for Brussel sprouts and cranberry curd had to be pushed back but I’m glad the madeleines from my previous post were a winner along with these cured egg yolks.
What are Salt-Cured Egg Yolks?
Salt cured eggs yolks have been making the rounds on the internet and social media for a few years and I’ve been intrigued and eager to give them a try. Preserving eggs in clay, mud or salty brine is a centuries-old Chinese tradition (there are Japanese and Filipino versions, too) but the process usually takes weeks.
Instead of using a whole raw egg in its shell, the idea of quick-curing just the egg yolks by burying them in a salt-sugar mixture and leaving them to cure for just a few days appealed to me. The process was too easy not to try and grating or shaving the dried, salty nuggets to finish a dish sounded like the perfect umami-boosting ingredient I needed in my kitchen arsenal.
I imagined these cured yolks to be the (ovo) vegetarian’s answer to bottarga (salted, cured fish roe), one of my favorite ingredients.
In reality, they weren’t too far off the mark.
I was raised in a Filipino household with itlog na maalat (salted eggs) making a regular appearance at the table. They are used in certain baked goods to add a salty element but most commonly as a fresh salad/condiment tossed with tomatoes and served alongside rice and meat, an easy way to perk up a simple dish.
What Do Salt-Cured Egg Yolks Taste Like?
These quick-cured eggs taste much like the salted eggs of my childhood–salty with an amplified egg flavor. They are drier and firmer in texture and because of this I envision so many more applications for them besides being a sidekick to tomatoes.
Uses for Salt-Cured Egg Yolks
So far I’ve enjoyed them as a topping for rice and salad but I can also see grating a yolk over a bowl of soup, pasta (imagine on carbonara or Alfredo sauce), roasted vegetables–and how about a new spin on avocado toast? Well, I thought I was being original here but a little googling revealed that Food & Wine had done avo toast with cured eggs before…apparently not an original idea but still a great one!
Lastly, the next time you’re stuck with a huge bowl of egg yolks after making French macarons, meringues or pavlova here’s your recipe to salvage the leftovers.
This post is photo-loaded but I wanted to show you the step-by-steps of this simple process. I’m already imagining another way to infuse more flavor into my next batch: smoked perhaps? Can’t wait.
Salt-Cured Egg Yolks
An old Asian technique for eggs, these quick-cured egg yolks will add an umami boost to soups salads, rice, pasta and even avocado toast.
- 1 3/4 cups kosher salt
- 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
- 7 large egg yolks
- cooking spray
Whisk the salt and sugar together in a bowl. Spread out about half of the salt-sugar mixture on a baking dish or tray and create depressions about one inch apart using one of the using an egg shell.
Place an egg yolk in each depression and cover using the remaining salt-sugar mixture. Use a light hand in sprinkling the mixture on top of the egg yolks to avoid breaking them. Wrap the dish in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator for five days. (If you used extra large eggs, add an extra day.)
After five days: Preheat your oven to 150ºF and set a cooling rack on a baking sheet. Spray the rack with cooking spray. Carefully brush off the salt-sugar mixture from the eggs, rinse gently and pat dry. The yolks should be semi-farm at this point. Set on the rack and dry them in the oven for about 90 minutes. After their time in the oven the yolks will be dry, firm and opaque (the texture of gruyere cheese). Cool and grate/slice over salad, soup, rice and/or pasta. Will keep refrigerated for up to one month.
Adapted from Bon Appetit. Where the original recipe uses four egg yolks for this amount of salt and sugar I was able to cure seven egg yolks by using two smaller containers.