Earlier this year, Dimitri introduced me to the Bon Appetit Taste Kitchen on YouTube with an episodeof It’s Alive: Brad Makes Cured Egg Yolks. It’s one of my favourites because it’s so silly, fun, and cured egg yolks?!

For months we talked about how we would cure our own yolks but we never got around to it. I was fixated on the fact that neither of us had a dehydrator and I didn’t put too much effort in finding where I could get our hands on some duck eggs. The process also seemed to take forever.

Then lockdown happened and I decided that chicken eggs would do fine. Also dehydrator? Cool but not necessary. I separated the yolks from the whites – turning those into meringue puffs. The cured yolks took about a week in all, requiring much gentleness but not actually that much hands-on time. The flavour is strong, salty, and full of that umami goodness. (It is basically like a salted duck egg except it is just the yolk.) We grated them on top of jook, or congee, and pasta (it’s lauded as the dairy-free Parmesan substitute). I imagine they’re delicious on top of brothy soups too.

Ingredients

  • 0,75 cups cup of kosher salt
  • 0,5 cups of sugar
  • Three clean, unbroken egg yolks
  • Optional: ~2 tablespoons of seasoning like paprika, peppercorns, anise seeds, bay leaves, truffle, cardamom — honestly, whatever you think you would add to the flavour. Make sure they’re ground up. If you have a food processor, use that.

Method

Step 1

Mix the sugar, salt, and other seasonings in a bowl. With half of the mixture, fill a container and spread it out. Using an egg (with a shell), or the back of a tablespoon, make three indentations.

Step 2

Very gently, place each yolk in these little beds. With the rest of the salt mixture, gently shake with a spoon to cover the yolks – don’t dump it on top, otherwise you risk breakage – and to prop up the sides around the yolks so they stay secure.

Step 3

Close the container, or use clingfilm to cover it, and store it in the fridge, undisturbed, for at least 72 hours. 4-5 days is a good measure.

Step 4

When it’s time to take them out, take a pastry brush and start to patiently excavate your yolks. Softly scrape away the mixture until the yolks become free.

If there is still mixture, use a damp paper towel to remove. Pat them dry on another paper towel – not too hard. They’ll be a little delicate.

Step 5

If you have a cheese cloth and some twine, wrap and tie the yolks up and hang them to dry in a cool, dark place for at least one week.

Alternatively, put them in the oven at 100 degrees Celsius and let them dehydrate there until they’re dry to touch. This should take around 2 hours.

Once done — they’ll be hard and firm, store them in an airtight container and chill.

They’re now ready to be grated on top of your jook, pasta, and soups!

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The sugar and salt mixture should be discarded after.

The Instagram caption

On 4 May, I posted a rare food picture on my Instagram and had this caption. If you’re into a much more prosaic recipes, then this might be cute to read.

As times remain rough and we forget to be kind to ourselves, dehydrating salt-cured egg yolks has become a gentle practice for me.

DEHYDRATING EGG YOLKS?! What the?! Yes. Dehydrating motherfucking salt-cured egg yolks. I’m not kidding around here. This quarantine has taken me.

It starts with getting sugar and salt and other ground up spices and herbs. You have to mix them altogether well. Then you split the mixture. Half in one container. Half in another. Then you softly press an egg, in its shell, into the mixture three times to make an indentation. Congratulations. You just made teeny tiny beds for your egg yolks (very gently separated from the whites — those we make into meringues, another dehydrating activity). They will sleep there, gently covered by the other mixture half, for a little less than a week. Yes. The process is THAT long. It is important that they remain undisturbed. Shhhh.

When it’s time to wake them up, take in an inhalation. Excavation needs your patience. I use a brush now. I used to use a spoon. The brush is better. Gently scraping away the salt mixture — first to find where the egg yolks are buried; then slowly, slowly to witness the egg yolk appear in all its glory. You can’t be too harsh here otherwise you might break the yolks. Though they’ve been curing in the fridge for a week, they’re still fragile as fuck. Kind of like how we’ve been roaming the planet for decades and are extremely sensitive to puppies eating carrots. Give those yolks a break. Be gentle.

I further rinse the yolks to remove any mixture under a very small stream of water. Then you pat them (small pats, soft pats) dry with kitchen paper; very, very carefully, you take them from the paper and transfer it to baking paper when you put them in the oven — not to bake, but to dehydrate. It took this batch over six hours. (If you have a dehydrator, use that instead, obviously.) (… It shouldn’t take you six hours, some recipes are done in 1,5 hours. But it took THIS batch six hours because your canal princesses have an oven with a badly-designed temperature gauge so it’s a very hit-and-miss process.)