Salted egg, or "itlog na maalat" in Filipino, is a preserved egg known for its unique, savory flavor. This delicacy, made by curing duck or chicken eggs in salt brine, is a staple in Filipino cuisine.
What are salted eggs?
Salted eggs, known as "itlog na maalat" in Filipino, are made by preserving eggs with salt, a technique introduced by Chinese immigrants.
After curing the eggs in brine, they develop a briny aroma, a gelatin-like egg white, and a firm-textured yolk with a vibrant yellow-orange color.
In the Philippines, salted eggs are traditionally dyed red to distinguish them from fresh eggs. They are soaked in a solution with red food coloring to give them their distinct appearance.
It is mainly for aesthetic purposes and does not affect the taste or texture of the eggs. They are also available in white-colored shells, like regular eggs, and are sometimes sold vacuum-packed.
What do salted eggs taste like?
Salted eggs have a unique savory and salty taste. The curing process creates a briny flavor, distinct from regular eggs.
The egg whites resemble the texture of regular boiled eggs with a pronounced salty flavor. The yolks are decadent and buttery, with a consistency that can be both grainy and creamy.
Some have compared their taste to the rich, umami flavor of parmesan cheese. They are usually not eaten alone but used as an ingredient to enhance the flavor of dishes.
How are salted eggs made?
Salted duck eggs, sometimes chicken eggs, are preserved by immersing them in a concentrated salt solution or encasing them in salted clay, mud, or charcoal paste for several weeks.
After this curing process, the eggs are rinsed and boiled or steamed before consumption. In the Philippines, salted eggs are often made using the Pateros method.
A thick batter is formed from clay, table salt, and water. Fresh eggs are dipped in the mixture, packed in wooden boxes lined with newspapers, and wrapped lightly in them for dehydration control.
The eggs are stored at room temperature for 12 to 14 days, allowing the salt to distribute evenly inside through osmosis. After the curing period, they are cleaned and boiled on low heat for 30 minutes.
Chicken eggs can also be processed using this method, but breakage may occur in up to 10% of the batch.
Are salted eggs healthy?
Salted eggs are essentially duck eggs preserved with a significant amount of salt. According to Healthline, duck eggs are highly nutritious. They are a good source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and health-promoting compounds.
However, The Straits Times points out that salted eggs are high in sodium and the yolks are high in cholesterol. If you have an egg allergy or are at increased risk for heart disease, consuming them might not be advisable.
To prevent foodborne illnesses, it's essential to store and cook them correctly, as recommended by the USDA. As with any food, moderation is important for a balanced diet. For specific dietary concerns, consulting with a healthcare professional is always best.
How long do salted eggs last?
Salted eggs available in supermarkets are usually pre-cooked and ready to eat. They have a relatively long shelf life when stored properly.
They can last for several weeks up to a few months, depending on the curing method and storage conditions. Their high salt content acts as a natural preservative that helps inhibit the growth of bacteria.
How to store salted eggs
Store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. You can refrigerate them to extend their shelf life.
As with any food, the quality of salted eggs can deteriorate over time. Discard them if you notice any unusual odor, discoloration, or signs of spoilage to avoid potential health risks.
How to open salted eggs
Step 1: Pierce the egg with the tip of a sharp, thin knife or gently tap the shell on a hard surface to create a small crack.
Step 2: Once you have an opening, quickly cut the egg in half with one smooth motion.
Step 3: Use a spoon to scoop out the salted egg and cut it however you like.
Filipino recipes with salted egg
Salted egg is usually not eaten on its own because of its intense flavor. Instead, it is used in dishes to enhance their taste and provide a distinct savory element. Here are some examples:
- Ensaladang Itlog na Maalat: A refreshing salad with salted eggs, tomatoes, and red onion. It makes the perfect complement to grilled or fried foods.
- Salted Egg Siopao: A variation of the traditional Filipino siopao, these are steamed buns with a mixture of meat and salted duck eggs.
- Ensaladang Talong: Grilled or fire-roasted eggplant, tomatoes, and onions tossed with vinegar and sautéed shrimp paste. Salted eggs are an optional ingredient.
- Bibingka: This is fluffy rice cake made with rice flour and coconut milk, then topped with salted eggs and cheese. It is traditionally cooked in a special clay pot or pan lined with banana leaves.
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