Why is Singapore so Obsessed with Salted Egg Yolk?

When it comes to salted egg yolk, feelings in Singapore are intense.

Salted egg yolk is everywhere in the city-state right now. It’s a traditional ingredient getting some seriously modern treatment and people are going wild.

But why? What’s so good about salted egg yolk? Is it likely to fade as the hottest food trend in Singapore any time soon?

Simple answer… probably not.

Here’s some salted egg yolk history.

One of the most traditional ways to salt an egg.

The origins of the yolk

As a delicacy, salted egg yolk is nothing new. It’s been a staple of Chinese cuisine for centuries.

Nobody knows exactly how old the delicacy is, but it’s estimated that the Chinese were eating it even when the Ming Dynasty began in the 1300’s.

There have always been three traditional ways to make a salted egg. You can brine the eggs in a salt solution, dry-brine them by encrusting them with a layer of coarse salt, or coat them with a sort of muddy paste thing.

Each way turns out pretty much the same result, a yolk that’s a deep orange colour, has a grainy yet oozey texture and, of course, is satisfyingly salty.

It’s this that Singaporeans can’t get enough of.

Bursting onto the scene

If you’ve spent longer than two minutes in Singapore then you’ll be aware of the influence that Chinese culture and cuisine has on almost everything.

Ethnic Chinese folks make up about 75% of Singapore’s diverse population. So it’s no surprise that the salted egg yolk found its way onto the local food scene thanks to an imported sensation from Hong Kong a couple of years ago.

That sensation is the li sha bao – a steamed bun filled with molten custard made from butter, condensed milk and salted egg yolk. Possibly the most moreish thing you can eat.

It was the liu sha bao that made Singapore realise not only how tasty salted egg yolk is, but how insanely versatile it is, too.

Tom’s legendary salted egg yolk ice cream.

From croissants to cocktails

As soon as Singaporean foodies saw the molten custard of the liu sha bao, their collective imagination went crazy. So much so that today it’s hard to name a dish or drink that some chef somewhere hasn’t tried to adapt using salted egg yolk.

Here are a few of the best (and arguably weirdest) ways you can enjoy salted egg yolk in Singapore right now:

🥚 The salted yolk lava croissant at Antoinette has a bit of a cult following because creator Chef Pang Kok Keong insists on duck eggs that have been brined to perfection.

🥚 The salted egg yolk ice cream at Tom’s Palette doesn’t sound like it should be good but it really, really is. This place also stocks a further 180 well-researched flavours. Casual.

🥚 Head to LiHo for salted egg yolk bubble tea. Yes. Salted egg yolk bubble tea. It’s a bit weird, but who said egg yolk shouldn’t go with fresh milk, tapioca and brown sugar?

🥚 Operation Dagger are great at making cocktails and their salted egg yolk creation is making waves. Infused with house-made salted egg liqueur and caramel, it’s sweet and savoury.

🥚 Pork ribs with a crispy or sometimes gooey salted egg yolk covering are spreading through Singapore, one hawker stand, shopping mall food court or pop-up restaurant at a time.

How is all this for your heart?

By heart, we mean your health.

The traditional and still most common sort of eggs that are used to create all these yolk-y goodies are duck eggs.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, salted duck eggs are an effective home remedy for all sorts of things from diarrhoea to weepy eyes. But what about their nutrition?

Duck eggs typically contain double the cholesterol levels of chicken eggs, so they’re definitely not great for your heart. Though, compared to fresh eggs, salted eggs have more protein, calcium and potassium, but are slightly lower in iron and vitamins.

All things considered – go with the ‘everything in moderation’ approach.

The yolk is here to stay

So, to return to one of the original questions of whether salted egg yolk is likely to fade as the hottest food trend in Singapore any time soon, you had better accept that the yolk is here to stay.

It’s versatility and salty-but-sweet appeal make it one of the most popular food trends in Singapore.

Salted egg yolk isn’t going to disappear because it goes with almost everything and the egg-cellently creative Singaporean foodies are only just getting started with their yolk-y inventions.