Fermented eggs have been a staple in many cultures for thousands of years.
While some find them repulsive, others regard them as an unmatched delicacy.
Depending on the preparation method and length of fermentation, the taste can range from mildly tangy to overwhelmingly pungent.
In this article, we’ll explore the different types of fermented eggs, how they’re made, and what they taste like.
The taste of fermented egg can vary from mildly tangy to extremely pungent, depending on the length of fermentation. In general, they have a strong umami flavor with hints of saltiness and sourness. Some varieties may also have slight seafood or ammonia flavors.
What Are Fermented Eggs?
Fermented egg is a dish that has been prepared by several cultures throughout history. They’re made by soaking raw eggs in a brine or burying them in a mixture of clay, ash, salt, and rice straw for several weeks to months.
During this time, the bacteria on the eggshells break down the proteins and fats in the egg, producing a range of chemical compounds that give the eggs a distinctive flavor and texture.
Depending on the preparation method and the culture, fermented eggs can be dyed, flavored with tea, vinegar, or spices, or served with other foods as a condiment.
Types of Fermented Eggs
While many cultures have their own version of fermented eggs, some of the most popular types include:
- Century Eggs/Thousand-Year Eggs: Originally from China, these eggs are soaked in a mixture of wood ash, clay, salt, and quicklime for several weeks to months. The alkaline environment breaks down the proteins and creates a gel-like texture with a yolk that’s green and creamy with hints of sulfur and ammonia.
- Balut: A Filipino delicacy made from partially fertilized duck eggs that are boiled and eaten with salt, vinegar, and chili. When cracked open, the egg reveals a partially formed embryo with soft bones, feathers, and a yolk with a slightly metallic and salty taste.
- Salted Duck Eggs: Another common Chinese dish, salted duck eggs are submerged in a brine of saltwater and vinegar for several weeks to months. The yolks turn a deep orange color and have a rich, salty flavor with a slightly crumbly texture.
- Maeso: A Korean specialty made of raw duck egg that is buried in a mixture of soil, salt, and straw for several weeks. The egg white turns gelatinous with a sour taste, while the yolk is salty and creamy.
What Do Fermented Eggs Taste Like?
The taste of fermented eggs can vary depending on the preparation method, length of fermentation, and the culture. However, some general characteristics that are common to most varieties include:
- Umami: Fermented eggs have a rich, savory flavor that is often described as umami. This is due to the breakdown of the proteins in the egg, which produces amino acids that stimulate the taste buds.
- Saltiness: Most fermented eggs are heavily salted, which gives them a salty, briny taste.
- Sourness: As the bacteria break down the egg, they produce lactic acid, which gives fermented eggs a tangy or sour flavor.
- Pungency: Depending on the length of fermentation, some varieties of fermented eggs can have an extremely strong odor and taste. This is due to the production of ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, and other volatile compounds.
- Seafood flavor: Some fermented egg varieties, such as Balut, have a distinct seafood flavor due to the partially formed embryo.
Despite their strong taste, many people enjoy fermented eggs and consider them a delicacy. In fact, some cultures even regard them as a health food due to their high protein content and probiotic benefits.
How to Enjoy Fermented Eggs?
While some people enjoy eating fermented eggs plain, many prefer to use them in other dishes as a condiment or ingredient. Here are a few ways to enjoy fermented eggs:
- In a soup: Fermented eggs can add a savory, umami flavor to soups, stews, and broths. Simply crumble the eggs into the soup and let them simmer for a few minutes, or add them to the broth while it’s still cooking.
- In a salad: Salted duck eggs are often used as a topping for salads or as an ingredient in dishes like salted egg yolk crab. The creamy, salty flavor pairs well with fresh greens and other veggies.
- In a sandwich: Add some sliced century egg or chopped salted duck egg to your next sandwich for a unique flavor profile.
- On rice: Try pairing fermented eggs with rice for a classic Asian dish. Simply crack open a salted duck egg or slice some century egg and serve over a bed of rice with some soy sauce.
- As a snack: If you’re feeling adventurous, try eating fermented eggs plain. Start with a small amount and work your way up to larger quantities.
Fermented eggs may not be for everyone, but they’re certainly a culinary adventure worth trying. From the mild tanginess of salted duck eggs to the pungent aroma of century eggs, there’s a fermented egg recipe for every taste bud.
If you’re interested in trying fermented eggs, start with a milder variety like salted duck eggs or maeso and work your way up to more intense flavors. And remember, fermented eggs are often used as a condiment or ingredient, so don’t be afraid to get creative with how you use them in your cooking.
Jenny has always been passionate about cooking, and she uses her platform to share her joy of food with others. Her recipes are easy to follow, and she loves giving tips and tricks to help others create their own unique culinary creations.