Salted eggs in the making!
Salted eggs were one simple food common in my family, during my growing-up years. Though salted eggs were already easily available from wet markets and dried-food stalls then, my late grandma would brine duck eggs at home in a big glass canister, and keep them in a cool corner below a table without direct sunlight. We used to eat them hard-boiled (the simplest way) with porridge, along with other dishes. Eating porridge for lunch was common in my family. One other common way was to steam it together with chicken eggs and century eggs. We call it 三黄蛋 (san-huang-dan : three-egg-yolk steamed eggs).
I have not bought salted eggs for a long time. Those available in supermarkets are the type covered with thick salted charcoal paste, mainly imported from China. I am not sure why but I have been craving for salted eggs lately. Surely I could just buy some from the supermarket but I decided to go back to the basic, that is to brine them myself, just like what my late grandma has done. This will give me peace of mind as I will know what goes into my stomach when I eat them. I can be paranoid at times with preserved food that are readily available off the rack!
I have read that brined duck eggs give a better taste and texture particularly richer egg yolks over chicken eggs. So now I understand why my late grandma used only duck eggs! I started hunting for duck eggs but to no avail. I finally learned from an egg seller in a wet market that there are no duck eggs importers in Singapore. That sounded strange. Anyway, I settled with these eggs that I normally buy from supermarkets – organic selenium chicken eggs with 30% less cholesterol.
I wished I had learned the brining formula from my late grandma! I was somewhat surprised that there are quite a number of variations in the brining formulas – using just salt and water or with Shaoxing rice wine added or with spices like star aniseed and Sichuan Peppercorns or even tea leaves added. Concentrations of salt water used are varied too. There is also a method that coats the eggs with rice wine and dry sea salt. I chose the brining method, and used a concentration of 350g of fine sea salt to 1 litre of water.
Since it is inexpensive to do a small experiment, I decided to have two versions of 6 eggs each – one with salt and Shaoxing rice wine only and the other with one star aniseed and a very small quantity of Sichuan peppercorns added, as adopted from Christine’s Recipes. I happen to have a packet of Sichuan peppercorns which I bought from my holiday in Sichuan last September. Shaoxing rice wine is said to give a better orange-red effect to the egg yolks.
Now, I am waiting excitedly to see the outcome. I really hope that they will turn out well! I am probably going to first cook them after 20 days since there is also a variation in the brining durations, ranging from 14 to 45 days. If they are not salty enough, then I will continue for some more days. 🙂
Hoping for the best!