I’m always a fan of using the simplest ingredients in unique and creative ways to turn a dish into something 100x more fancy. An eggcellent way to do this would be by curing egg yolks and turning them into golden, salty, yolky umami bombs of flavor.
So what is a salt cured egg yolk? They are egg yolks that have been separated from the albumin (egg white) component and completely covered in a salt and sugar mixture before being left in the fridge to cure. The extremely saline environment causes salt to diffuse inside the egg yolk, while osmosis drives water outside of the yolk. This causes the yolk to turn into a solid disc which you can then use for eating with pastries, congee, or even grated on steaks or pastas (like a hard cheese). The loss of moisture combined with the extreme salinity from the salt discourages harmful microbes to grow, and can thus preserve your yolk for a long period of time! If you have extra eggs lying around, this is a great way to preserve them!
You got time? If you got the time, the entire, unabridged process of curing egg yolks could take two weeks. One week will be dedicated to allowing the egg to cure while surrounded by salt and sugar. Afterwards, it’l take another week to dry the yolk in your fridge while wrapped in a cheese cloth. While the longer method ends up giving better texture, there is an express-lane version that can get your egg cured and ready to go in a week! Instead of allowing the egg to dry out for a week in the fridge, you can take advantage of a desiccator or oven to dry your eggs in about two hours after you finish the salt-cure.
Ingredients (for 6 eggs)
-6 egg yolks (separated from egg whites)
-Kosher salt (enough to cover top and bottom of egg yolks, approx 1/2 cup per egg)
-Sugar (Approx 1/3rd the amount of salt)
1) Mix kosher salt and sugar in a bowl and place half onto a bowl/dish where you will be storing your yolk.
2) Make six holes or divots in the salt/sugar to place your yolks
3) Crack open eggs and separate the egg yolk from egg white
4) Carefully place egg yolks into each separate divot of the salt/sugar
5) Use the remaining salt/sugar and completely cover your egg yolk so that the yolk isn’t visible
6) Cover the dish/container and store in a fridge for 5-7 days to cure the yolk
7) After 5-7 days, use a spoon to fish out the cured yolks. Gently wash off excess salt/sugar on the surface of the yolk with water (be careful, the yolks can still burst at this step)
8) Drying the egg:
a) For the eggs-press method: place your yolks in a dessicator or your oven at the lowest possible setting (mine was set to 175°F) and allow to dry for two hours. After two hours, remove from oven and
b) For the air-dry method, place each yolk into an individual cheese cloth and string it to hang in your fridge for seven days
9) After drying, your cured yolks are ready to serve! Grate it on pasta, steak, chips, bread, congee, or even use in pastries.
-The yolk can still be burst after finishing the salt cure. Be gently when scrubbing off the excess salt or you make break the yolk
-The yolks have a salty, sweet taste based on the ingredients used to cure. You can go crazy with it and add some aromatics (such as dried thyme, oregano, etc.) and infuse some fragrance to your yolk.