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Salted Egg Yolk Is Never Passé, And It Never Will Be

Of the many food trends that come and go in Singapore over the years, the salted egg yolk craze has long become a well-treasured fixture in the culinary tapestry here. From crustaceans to chips, diced chicken to fried greens, there is a salted egg yolk rendition for almost anything here on the sunny island.

And of course, in the pre-coronavirus era, where sunny Singapore is a popular touristy spot for vacations, many travellers would buy salted egg yolk chips or fried salmon skin, in bulk, from IRVINS to satisfy their salted egg yolk cravings back home.

Cardi B Likes Irvins Salted Egg Yolk Salmon Skin

In late February, American rapper Belcalis Almanzar, who is more commonly known as “Cardi B”, announced on Twitter she was about to hit the local Asian supermarket and asked for recommendations on the snacks she ought to get. One of such recommendations was the hugely popular IRVINS Salted Egg Potato Chips, which shared in a subsequent tweet that she “can’t wait to try”.

True to her word, Cardi B dropped by the Asian supermarket and got herself a huge assortment of snacks, which run the gamut from Japanese jellies, Korean Ramyeon noodles, rice crackers and even black sugar boba ice bars. Needless to say, IRVINS Salted Egg Potato Chips and Salmon Skin were two of them.

Like Cardi B, the same sentiment is expressed by locals who are based overseas. 

Image Credits: Xian Dan Chao Ren

“(Salted egg yolk dishes) were always so readily available in Singapore that I took it for granted,” says 26-year-old Singaporean Jana Chua, who is pursuing her Masters in Speech Language Therapy Practice in Auckland, New Zealand.  She even wanted to introduce IRVINS Salted Egg Yolk Chips to her university mates during the Lunar New Year, but to no avail. “Now that I’m so far away from home, I realised how much I’ve missed it. I tried visiting the different Asian supermarkets but could not find any.”

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“Living overseas and being away from my family and friends is hard, but not as hard as living without an abundance of salted egg yolk options,” says Marissa Mir, 30, a Singaporean who is now based in London. “The UK needs to get on this craze!”

The Origin of Salted Egg Yolk

Image Credit: Shutterstock

For the uninitiated, the salted egg yolk dishes and other interesting renditions are gentrified versions of sorts. Salted eggs have origins rooted back centuries ago in China, where typically duck eggs (which contain more Omega-3 fatty acid and cholesterol, and thus more flavourful) were brined in salt solution to prolong their shelf lives. Salted duck eggs were also made using a dry-brine technique by encrusting the eggs in coarse salt or even coating them in sand, mud or clay.

According to Michelin Guide Singapore, the first mention of salted duck egg dates back to the fifth century AD. Interestingly, consuming salted duck eggs can help reduce “heatiness”. They are also a home remedy to alleviate diarrhea and weepy eyes, according to the same article by Michelin Guide Singapore. Salted duck eggs are often a condiment that pairs well with insipid Teochew porridge.

Ephemeral Creations? I Think Not

Salted Egg YolkImage Credits: IRVINS

A plethora of salted egg yolk dishes and snacks have made its round around Singapore over the years. In 2009, following the trend in Hong Kong, molten custard salted egg buns (or Liu Sha Bao) began popping up in local dim sum eateries, hawker centres, and even supermarkets.

A year later, in September 2010, homegrown ice-cream parlor Tom’s Palette debuts an original salted egg yolk ice-cream, much to the delights of salted egg yolk fans. “My wife Eunice and I had Liu Sha Bao when we were in Hong Kong, and that inspired Eunice to recreate an ice-cream version back home,” says Chronos Chan, director and head chef of Tom’s Palette. “We use duck eggs from Vietnam.”

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In 2014, salted egg yolk chips and fried salmon skin by IRVINS began entering the public conscience. IRVINS, which was first established in 2008 as a local zi car (or “stir fry”) restaurant, started selling packaged salted egg yolk goodies at pop-ups around Singapore, and that gained the Singaporean label a cult following. Melding the savoury egg flavor with a satisfying crunch, munchies from the brand are as addictive as they can get.

A cocktail made using cured egg yolks. Image Credits: Operation Dagger

At its peak, Singapore saw salted egg yolk crabs, lobsters, squid, macarons, lava cakes and even croissants making their mark in the culinary scene. In fact, there was even an alcoholic beverage made using salted egg too. Concocted by the now-defunct bar Operation Dagger, the salted egg tipple, otherwise dubbed “The Egg”, boasts the salty salted egg yolk, rum, and sweet caramel, with hints of vanilla in between.

Salted Egg YolkImage Credits: Xian Dan Chao Ren

This year, a new salted egg-themed kiosk will be opening up in the heartlands at Punggol. The new kiosk, “Xian Dan Chao Ren” or “Salted Egg Hero”, sees an eclectic selection of fried fritters, such as lotus root, pumpkin, man tou (buns) and diced chicken, paired with the gritty and savoury salted egg yolk sauce. Customers can even opt to have their fritters drenched in salted egg yolk or enjoy them separately (the salted egg yolk then becomes a dip).

On entering the seemingly saturated salted egg yolk food scene, Allan Ang, one of the founders of “Xian Dan Chao Ren”, explains, “We love ourselves a good salted egg dish and we realised combining that with everyday fritters yield the same satisfaction. We developed even more recipe revolving around the dip and we wanted to share our creations with others.”

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Image Credits: IRVINS

Like “Xian Dan Chao Ren”, IRVIN has also recently launched a collaboration with pizzeria PEZZO. The collaboration sees an decadent salted egg yolk fish skin crumbs pizza, which will run from a limited time only from March 4 to April 30.  

The Future of Salted Egg Yolks

On why salted egg yolk is a timeless trend, Irvin Gunawan, founder of IRVINS Singapore, explains, “If it’s done right, then it will never die out. The trend survives through the amazing taste and innovations around real salted egg yolk.”

Chronos, however, remains forthright about the future of salted egg yolk. “Trends do come and go,” he says. “Some might return, some might not. To me, as long as there are people who crave salted egg yolk products, the trend will never die. This is because Singaporeans love to eat.”

Salted Egg YolkImage Credits: Xian Dan Chao Ren

If anything, the salted egg yolk craze is here to stay. And food establishments and culinary innovators need to constantly hatch (pun intended) new but delectable creations to stay in game.

“While we are very confident that the salted egg craze has matured from trend to staple, no one can know for sure. But looking at how far the salted egg yolk has come, and since there is sustainable and growing demand, it will definitely be around for a while more,” Allan concludes.

Xem thêm bài viết thuộc chuyên mục: Traveller

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