September 25, 2011
Salted Duck Egg and Tomato Salad
Itlog na Maalat (salted duck eggs) and kamatis (tomatoes): the quintessential Filipino side dish. Though labeled as a salad, it is not eaten before the main meal customary in Western dining. It's more considered a side dish to be eaten along with your ulam (viand) and of course, steamed rice.
A few months ago in Spring, the egg vendor at my farmers market was selling duck eggs so thought I'd give it a try making my own itlog na maalat. I went to research and found this great pictorial on the photo blog My SariSari Store about the process of making salted duck eggs in the Philippines (there are four parts).
Though chicken eggs may also be used, duck eggs are traditionally used for their bigger size and fatty yolks. Commercially-prepared salted eggs are also brined in mud! Dirt and water mixed along with salt are used to brine the duck eggs for about 3 weeks. Though my sons would gladly approve of any opportunity to "cook" in the mud I think it'll be one messy project!
Thank goodness there is another, less messy, way which is to just soak the eggs in saltwater. It would make sense to use sea salt and not the common table which has iodine. I ended up using two cups of salt dissolved in six cups of water. The porous eggs shells will absorb the salt from the water and flavor the eggs inside. Osmosis at work and my sons got a science lesson out of it. ;)
You also need a little bit of patience for they take about three to four weeks to cure. And since fresh eggs float in the water, you need something heavy on top to keep the eggs totally submerged in the saltwater. A plate or a sealed food-storage bag filled with water placed on top will work fine. Keep the container with your eggs and saltwater in a cool place, I kept mine at the bottom shelf in my pantry. I boiled one egg for ten minutes to test for my preferred saltiness. If you think the eggs achieved the right salty flavor, just boil the rest. If not, just keep soaking them for a few more days, for up to a week.
I was not able to take pictures in-process but I believe it's easy and straightforward. The last three eggs you see here are ones I made all the way back on Easter, enjoyed with the Summer's ripest tomatoes. So you can see, once you cooked them, they keep for a long time in the refrigerator. Now I want to make more.
I've actually been asking my egg vendor for more duck eggs. My egg vendor told me he had been collecting eggs from his ducks but was not comfortable selling them to me due to the summer heat. And now with Autumn's arrival, the ducks have slowed their egg production.
This is my entry for this month's Kulinarya, the challenge: red, white, blue and yellow -- colors of the Philippine flag. So you thinking where's the blue: the egg shells of course!