Firstly, yes, salted egg yolk is a thing. And in Singapore, it has fast become the thing.
The partly sweet, partly savoury ingredient is literally everywhere. Croissants and macaroons are stuffed with it, pork ribs are marinated in it, and onion rings are dipped in it. Even McDonalds and KFC have their own version of salted egg fried chicken.
Looking for a gift for that relative you’ve never met? You can’t go wrong with salted egg potato chips and fish skins. Made with curry leaves and chillies, these babies are a ticking cholesterol time bomb but they’re flying off the shelves even with an eyebrow-raising price tag of $7-$8 SGD or $5-$6 USD per small bag.
Salted egg, or a preserved duck egg, has been a staple of Chinese cuisine for centuries (don't confuse it with century eggs) and is usually eaten with Teochew-style porridge. It has since penetrated other types of Chinese cuisine, including Cantonese dim sum and Singaporean tze char (home-style dishes), which is famous for salted egg squid and crab.
Restaurants even have a term to describe dishes prepared with the fatty yolk: golden sand. The name, taken from the grainy texture that yolks get when stir fried, brings to mind a sea of bobbing orange, caviar-like blobs.
Singapore has battled a golden sand epidemic for some time now and to prove just how over-the-top the market is, here are some of the city-state’s weirdest salted egg products – and a taste rating for those of you who want to try them out:
LiHo's Salted Egg Yolk Bubble Tea: 1 out of 5 eggs
Brought to you by the same company that does cheese tea, this concoction is made with real salted eggs (not simulated flavoring), tapioca pearls with roasted brown sugar, and fresh milk. Incredibly thick and cloying, it feels like you’re drinking salted egg yolk custard resulting in an instant migraine and parched mouth. 1 egg for effort though.
Salted Egg Yolk Ice Cream by Tom's Palette: 3.5 out of 5 eggs
Ice cream is quite possibly the best dessert to capture salted egg’s umami taste. Texture is key to dealing with such a rich flavor and this one is nice—buttery but not too overpowering. Still somehow sweet, overall it felt like a legit alternative to salted caramel gelato.
Operation Dagger's Salted Egg Yolk Cocktail: 5 out of 5 eggs
Now this is hard to beat. A fancy basement bar cures salted egg yolk with rum, vanilla and caramel before blending it all together. Served smoked in a glass jar within a ceramic cup alongside hay and star anise, this beauty is called ‘The Egg’ and is like reinvented eggnog. Don’t try to make this at home though, this is probably best left to mixologists.
This article originally appeared on VICE ASIA.