Posted by: adventuressetravels | April 20, 2012

Preserved Duck eggs: the Stinky Cheese of the Orient

When one buys eggs from the “egg” section of a grocery store, it seems pretty obvious what you’re going to get.  I’d gotten chicken eggs a couple of times at the Lucky Supermarket in Phnom Penh, but had always been curious about the larger duck eggs on the rows right above them.  Finally one day curiosity got to me.  Sure they were a little more expensive for eggs that were just bigger, but I’d never tried a duck egg before.

I would just have duck eggs for breakfast for a while and my curiosity would be satisfied.  Little did I know what was in store for me…

One Thursday morning, I pulled out the duck eggs to use in my omelet.  Lifting one, it felt deceptively heavy, but as I hadn’t tried them before I didn’t pay it much mind and rapped the pink-shelled egg on the countertop.  The instant cracks appeared in the shell I could tell something was off:  the interior wasn’t leaking out.  Even stranger, it appeared to be black.

I pulled some chicken eggs out of the fridge and cracked them into my omelet, having my breakfast before trying to figure out what bizarre kind of duck egg I had purchased

Perhaps to some a pink shell would have been a tip-off, but I wasn’t familiar with duck eggs.  After emus have forest-green eggs, there are Easter-egg chickens with pastel shells of various hues, why not a type of duck that lays a hot pink egg?

On closer examination the egg was even stranger than I had first realized.  When I pealed back the thick shell, there was the “white,” jiggling at me like some bizarre type of Jell-o

As shocked and horrified as I was, I do like trying new things.  With an audible gulp, I swallowed my Western sensibilities and prepared to swallow the egg.

The curing process turns the egg white into a kind of translucent black, egg-shaped Jell-o mold.   It has a slightly firmer texture than well-set Jell-o but in and of itself it has an innocuous, though slightly salty flavor.  No, this gelatinous coating is more a casing for the real treat which lies inside: the yolk.

The egg yolk is greenish-gray and has a soft, creamy texture.  It solid, but only just.  The texture is far firmer than a raw egg yolk, but softer and smoother than the yolk of a hard-boiled egg, and is somewhat similar to a soft cheese.  On first bite the yolk taste exactly like that: an egg yolk with attitude.  Its strong taste is slightly salty, but is nothing out of the ordinary.  The transformation the flavor goes through in your mouth is where the real magic lies.  As the creamy yolk melts in your mouth, the flavor blossoms into something entirely different.  This miraculous preserved egg changes and grows into the aftertaste reminiscent of a rind of brie, or even a slightly more pungent cheese.

Between the texture and the aftertaste I find myself wondering what the yolks of these preserved eggs would be like on crackers.

The one challenge for me, and for many westerners, is coming to terms with the fact that one is eating a black egg.  And, though I realize that like strong cheese I will probably come to view these eggs as a delicacy, eating something that looks like this is a challenge.

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Responses

  1. How are duck eggs “preserved”?

  2. Oooogha! Too visually challenging for me.


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