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Salted egg yolks!

By Tan Ying Zhen

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Food fads don't usually last long in Singapore, but salted egg yolks are still everywhere.

In fried fish skins and potato chips, ice cream and fried crabs, chicken burgers and croissants.... Salted egg yolk dishes and snacks are still popping up on menus in humble eateries, restaurants, cafes and even fast-food places.

The craze started a few years ago, but salted egg yolk is hardly new. The ingredient comes from salted duck eggs, a quintessentially Chinese foodstuff that goes back more than 600 years.

Today, salted duck eggs are usually made by soaking the eggs in brine. The yolks can be used to flavour both cooked and baked goods, as well as savoury treats and sweet desserts.

According to the Michelin Guide Singapore website, the salted egg craze in Singapore started in 2011, when liu sha bao — steamed Chinese buns filled with molten salted egg yolk custard — arrived in Singapore from Hong Kong. Many love how the hot and creamy liquid centres of the buns spill out. The custard is sweet, salty and creamy. It's become a common and increasingly popular item on dim sum menus, and I've seen many Instagram videos showing the liquid centre spilling out once you break open the bun.

A few years later, the salted egg yolk craze erupted in Singapore, and still shows no signs of dying down. Condiment brands have launched salted egg powders to make it easier for home cooks to prepare salted egg yolk dishes. Even BBC Good Food magazine has a recipe for you to make your own salted egg yolk. It's described as "a great garnish for salads, pastas or avocado on toast." The recipe also says, "Forget Parmesan and get grating these unusual umami yolks."

Even as I snack compulsively on salted egg fish skins — from a 230-gram packet which cost S$16 (¥1,330) and took me 30 minutes to queue for — I'm beginning to understand this craze. Perhaps it's the sweet and savoury richness that goes well with almost anything. Could it be the appetite-inducing aroma, or the naturally appealing orange colour? Maybe it's a combination of factors that lets salted egg yolk hit all the right spots.

I don't like salted eggs on their own, but when the yolks are used as a flavouring or sauce, I forget about how high the cholesterol is, and throw all inhibitions out of the window.

How long will this trend last? No one can tell, but for now, it looks like salted egg yolk is here to stay. If you are visiting Singapore, do give it a try. Perhaps it would work well with Japanese dishes too. How about a salted egg yolk sauce for shabu-shabu, or salted egg yolk ramen?

塩漬け卵黄ブーム

食べ物のブームというのは大抵長くは続かないが、シンガポールでは数年前から「塩漬け卵黄」が大人気だ。甘い物にもしょっぱい物にも合う豊かなうまみに人々は夢中になっている。

The Japan Times ST: October 27, 2017

The Japan Times ST 読者アンケート

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2017年12月1日号    試読・購読   デジタル版
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