The first time I ate salt-cured eggs, (xiandan, 咸蛋) was at a hotel breakfast in Jiangsu. The eggs were served sliced into wedges as a side dish for rice porridge. I was expecting a boiled egg, so their texture was uncanny. Salt-cured duck eggs are the most common, but both chicken and goose eggs are also seen.
My salt-cured egg recipes come from two Sichuanese people, one from Chongqing, the other from Zigong. Their methods for wet-curing (brining in a crock) and dry-curing are both acceptable ways to make a good xiandan. Dry-curing is simple; the eggs are alcohol-soaked and salt-encrusted, left to cure in the osmotic magic of a sealed plastic bag). The brining method requires a 20% salt brine and has been written about in English on both Madame Huang’s blog and The Waitakere Redneck’s Kitchen blog, both which match up with my Sichuanese friends’ recipes. Compared with dry-curing, this method promises endless customization and experimentation with Sichuanese peppercorns, star anise, cassia bark or other spice combinations.
Today, I want to share their lesser-known method for dry-curing.
Duck eggs and goose eggs are likely not in your neighborhood grocery store. Even Chinese or Pan-Asian grocers rarely carry fresh eggs other than those of chickens. But duck eggs are getting easier to find through local farms. Using the internet, I connected with Scott at 180 Degree Farm south of Atlanta, who pastures geese and ducks for egg production. There are likely farmers near you doing the same thing.
Dry-Brined Duck Eggs – 干腌咸鸭蛋
Length of cure:
10-25 days depending on temperature
Small plastic bag with seal
12 duck eggs
A small bowl of high-alcohol baijiu, gaoliangjiu, laobaigan. (Kinmen Gaoliang or Beijing Erguotuo are common, but even vodka can be used as a substitute)
A small bowl of salt
1)Clean the eggs of any debris
2) Roll your first egg in a small bowl of baijiu to coat the shell
3) Take the alcohol-moistened egg and roll it in the salt. Roll until the entire shell is covered in salt.
4) Gingerly lower the salt-encrusted egg into a plastic bag and seal it ensuring all air is removed. Pack this bagged egg in yet another sealable bag.
5) Place in refridgerator for 25-30 days, or room temperature for 10-15.
6) Once cured, boil for 5 minutes to prepare for eating.
70-80g duck eggs required 7-8g salt to coat.
140g goose eggs needed only 10-11g for a full coating.