A billowy cloud of salt muddied the bottom of the tall, wide glass jar.  The brine bath roiled as my fingers gently stirred the fragile eggs.  Half of them were white duck eggs and the other half were brown chicken eggs. One by one, I turned them as gingerly as I could so that not a single egg would break.

A full week had passed since I started the brine.  I consulted two recipes for curing the eggs.  One recipe called for a thirty-day soak and another called for only twenty one.   Before boiling all the eggs try just one first, the recipe suggestedIf the egg white does not taste salty, soak for at least another week.  A full month of waiting seemed far too long but I knew that my patience would be rewarded.  Eyes on the prize, I reminded myself.

It was my foray into homemade salted eggs.  The Filipino lady who sells chicken eggs at the Alemany Farmers’ Market on Saturday mornings usually supplies my stash of purple dyed itlog na maalat.  Before I discovered her, I  clandestinely brought back salted duck eggs with me whenever I returned from trips to Manila.  I remember wrapping them in layers of newsprint and burying them inside my suitcase alongside equally inconspicuous plastic tubs of my mom’s adobo and lumpia  that had been frozen for the long journey back to California.  I swear, pork adobo fried until it swims in its own delicious fat and strewn over rice with salted eggs and sliced tomatoes is the perfect cure for those crippling transpacific jet lags.

Itlog [it-lohg] means egg.  Alat [ah-laht] means saltiness.  Back home, duck eggs are cured not in brine but in mud and salt.  The eggs are buried in dirt, water, and salt and then stored in wooden crates until the salt  transforms them into intensely salty treats.  They are dyed  purplish red to distinguish them from the unsalted ones.  Chicken eggs are cured, too, but duck eggs are prized for their fattier yolks.

Filipino rice cakes like puto and bibingka are normally topped with slivers of salted duck eggs.  The intense flavor of the eggs beautifully complements the subtle sweetness of the cakes.  They are also great on ensaimadas and they make excellent pan de sal sandwiches.  But when I think of salted duck eggs I think of a plate of fried fish and rice accompanied with salted eggs and tomatoes mashed together by hand.  The fish can be anything like tinapa, (smoked), tuyo, (salted and dried scad or mackerel) or dilis (salted and dried anchovies).  Eaten with bare hands, this fish dinner is so simple yet so satisfying.  Immensely satisfying.

And so I waited.  I waited patiently for the days to turn into weeks.  Before long, the eggs were ready.  The tomatoes in our garden had ripened and were ready, too.

Indeed, good things come to those who wait.

 

Salted Eggs

 

Salted Egg Recipe

1 dozen duck or chicken eggs, thoroughly washed
1 to 1-1/2 cups of salt
4 cups warm water

Dissolve salt in warm water in a large glass or plastic pitcher. Add more salt until it no longer dissolves, and instead, settles to the bottom. Allow the brine to cool. Place the eggs in a wide-mouth glass jar or bowl and pour the brine over the eggs. To keep the eggs immersed in the brine, place a plate or a plastic bag filled with water on top of the eggs.  Cover the jar or bowl and keep at room temperature for at least 21 days.  Turn the eggs every few days.

Before boiling the whole batch, try boiling just one egg first and taste if it is salty enough.  If the egg white does not taste salty, soak for at least another week.

Place washed eggs in a large pot, cover with water, and bring them to a boil over medium-high heat.  Boil the eggs until they are fully cooked, about twenty to thirty minutes.  Run the eggs under cold water and store in the refrigerator, preferably in an egg crate or bowl with a lid.  Do not forget to mark the eggs to distinguish them from those that are not salted.  The salted eggs will keep for a month.

 

Salted Eggs

Salted Eggs

 

Learn the alphabet of Filipino food through our glossary. So much is lost in translation, I know, but I hope this glossary will help those unfamiliar with Filipino food become more informed.

A is for Achuete
B is for Barako Coffee
C is for Camarón
D is for Dinuguan
E is for Ensaimada
F is for Fish Balls
G is for Gata
H is for Himagas
I is for Itlog na Maalat

 

I is for Itlog na Maalat and How to Make Salted Duck Eggs is Jun-blog’s entry to this month’s  Kulinarya Cooking Club, a friendly group of Filipino food lovers from all around Kulinarya-Cooking-Club the world.  Each month the club assigns a theme to showcase a new Filipino dish. For the month of September, the challenge was to make something that displays the colors of the Philippine flag — red, white, blue, and yellow. There’s salted egg and tomato salad, radish and tomato salad, tocino hash, pork kaldereta, grilled pork belly and mango salad, salted fish fried rice, pinakbet, chicken curry and mango chutney, adobo, adobo wrap, longganisa silog, pianono, ube macapuno inipit, and cathedral window. Visit the Kulinarya Cooking Club site and Facebook page to meet the club members.

  • http://www.asianinamericamag.com Betty Ann @Mango_Queen

    Hi Jun! What a great post! I’ve always wanted to make my own salted eggs here in the USA, but was not brave enough. Now you’ve inspired me. I can make this now that fall is here. Hopefully, they’ll be ready in time for the holidays. What a nice treat this will be for our family brunch, with Sinangang and your suggested  dried fishes. Thanks for including my dish in your KCC roundup. Glad to cook along with you this month, my friend!

  • Tina (PinayInTexas)

    Great take on this month’s kulinarya cooking challenge, Jun! I’ve never tried making salted eggs…I just content myself with store bought ones which are most of the time, too salty. Thanks for sharing this! Now I know it’s easy!

  • http://www.skiptomalou.net SKIP TO MALOU

    Carol and I were just tweeting the other day about making itlog na maalat and I’m glad you made it!  Itlog na maalat is pampagana.  Whether you eat it alone or along other ulam, it definitely makes you eat more rice!
    btw, are your plates the “plato” from the Philippines?  Reminds me of the farm! haha!  Have a great day Jun!
    xo,
    Malou

  • http://wokwithray.net ray

    This is a beautiful post, Jun!  I remember my mom used to mix the eggs and chopped tomatoes together – lamutak style (barehand mixing).  Haha!  We were young, we didn’t mind eating it.  Thank you again for participating with this beautiful post.

    ~ ray ~  

  • Adora’s Box

    You know how that dish would pluck at any Filipino’s heartstrings. I can imagine it in our native setting. Well done for a truly Filipino dish.

  • Samanthafoodgeek

    Thanks for elevating this food into something beautiful and compelling as well
    as delicious! Photos are gorgeous as always…don’t know how you do it!

  • Anonymous

    I’ve always wanted to do a post on How To Make Salted Duck Eggs! This is wonderful!

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Thank you, Malou.  My favorite plates that I use for the blog — those white ones with a blue rim — are enamel plates I got from various flea markets and antique stores. 

  • Day

    Really nice Photos !!! =)

  • Felix Villanueva

    hi jun good job, i’m also making homemade itlog na maalat here in sri lanka, i’m using brown colored (shell) chicken eggs but only takes bout 16 days to acquire the saltiness i prefer.  the photos are great as usual….look so yummy!

  • http://www.mynappytales.com abigail

    That easy! You just inspired me to make our own stash of salted eggs. 

  • Pingback: Pork Kaldereta for Kulinarya Cooking Club | my Nappytales

  • mytwistedrecipe

    is that a steel plate i’m seeing? the ones used in some provinces? amazing!  

    great photos! and they look so yummy!

    happy to be cooking with you, Jun!

  • http://whenadobometfeijoada.blogspot.com carolineadobo

    I’m gonna have to make itlog na maalat using chicken eggs for now since my egg vendor says his ducks have slowed their egg production. The last 3 used for my tomato salad were all the way back from Easter!
    Great minds do think alike, Jun! :)  Though, now I want some dilis.

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    You got that right, Ray.  My mom would mash everything together with her hands — tomatoes and salted eggs or just plain tomatoes with patis — to accompany a simple meal of fried fish and rice.  So comforting.

  • http://oggi-icandothat.blogspot.com/ Oggi

    Your photos are always beautiful. I love the cuchara at tenedor and your plate too.

  • http://psychosomaticaddictinsane.wordpress.com Iya S. Santos

    I love itlog na maalat with tinapa, tomatoes and sinangag!

    I recently discovered that it’s good with tomatoes, kamias, onions AND chicharon! and you eat this salad with rice or instant pansit canton. hayayayay! ang sarap! try it!

  • J.I.

    Hi tito Jun! I’ll try this one. I hope it’s easy to make as it seems. Do you have healthy and easy-to-make recipes? I tried your pangat recipe and I was wondering if you have similar recipes. I’ll die early if I eat at the cafeteria every day. Thanks! :)

  • Anonymous

    This is just the sort of cooking adventure I was looking for. I am going to make this. I will report back. Athanor for energizing my morning. GREG

  • Edithbpalma

    Hi! Dear bother, nice blog, just wondering what are the other plants you have in your garden, your tomatoes are so red. Wish i could grow some plants too some day. Regards.

  • http://profiles.google.com/peqc08 Pia Cariquitan

    Gorgeous! That’s it, i’m joining the bandwagon and make my own itlog na maalat too! The yolks are so perfect. I miss those dilis..i’m so buying some on my next visit to the Pinoy store.  Wonderful job for the KCC Challenge.

  • Anonymous

    Alright, my duck eggs are brining, I said I would make these and the fun has begun. GREG

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Greg, I am soooo excited for you.  I take it that this will be your first taste of salted duck eggs.  Or have you had them before?  Let me know how it goes.  Exciting!

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    I never liked vinegar growing up so my substitute for it whenever I indulged in chicharron is tomatoes. And of course I added salted duck eggs every time I had kamatis.  Sarap, diba? I have to try it with pancit canton! 

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Yes! The plates are enamel plates I have salvaged from flea markets and antique stores.  Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    I have had hard boiled duck eggs, I have had poached duck eggs… Never salted. GREG

  • michiemama

    Hi! I wonder if there is any way to get the “mamantika” kind of salted egg (yolk)… Is it the length of brining? 

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    That’s a great question.  I don’t think it’s the length of brining.  I think it’s the egg’s yolk — how mature the egg is and other factors.  Duck eggs have fattier yolks that chicken eggs so you’ll definitely get the “mamantika” kind when you brine duck eggs.

  • http://www.athoughtforfood.net Brian @ A Thought For Food

    I’m in love.  Love the balance of flavors here and, being a huge fan of anchovies, I know it’s just a perfect match here.

  • reigne

    pwede ba sa putik yun ???

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Yes! The traditional way of making salted duck eggs is burying them in mud and salt.  Here’s a great post with photographs of the process from the blog My Sari Sari Store:  http://bit.ly/oouYez.

  • Magie Santos

    I remember we had this as an experiment back in highschool.. or was it gradeschool. haha but i love salted egg and will try this one again and use chicken eggs. haha it’s so cool when we make things on our own. and salted egg would taste sooooooooo delicious with tomatoes and onions. i think they call it ensalada?

  • Pingback: J is for Jackfruit and How to Make Pan de Sal Bread Pudding | Jun-Blog

  • http://www.lutonilola.net Gee Jay Coleco

    We always crush the tomatoes and salted egg using bare hands. Perfect for “kamayan”! :-)

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Yes, Magie.  Ensalada is the right word.  Tomatoes with salted eggs  mixed together by hand is the perfect Filipino salad.

  • Pingback: K is for Kamayan and How to Make Fish Paksiw | Jun-Blog

  • Pingback: L is for Longganisa (Filipino-Style Sausage) | Jun-Blog

  • Trisha

    That’s the simplest, cleanest, but most appetising plate of itlog na maalat, dilis, kamatis and rice. THIS is the true essence of Filipino food!

  • Pingback: M is for Mani and How to Make Pritong Mani (Fried Peanuts) | Jun-Blog

  • Tlb796

    How simply delightful to find you on the web. Strange that I found you looking for Corned Beef. :)
    I love Filipino food. Will be back often. To bad you wern’t in Portland Or. I would sell you chickens all day long. LOL

  • Pingback: N is for Noche Buena | Jun-Blog

  • Pingback: P is for Pancit Palabok | Jun-Blog

  • Pingback: Q is for Queso and How to Make Cheddar Cheese Ice Cream and Peanut Brittle | Jun-Blog

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Thank you for writing and thank you for checking out the blog.  Yes, you can reuse the brine. I’d use it two or three more times. No need to add more salt since the brine is already saturated with it.  Do you make yours with chicken or duck eggs?

  • natzsm

    I’ve only tried making it  once when I was in high school as a project.  We used duck eggs  and buried them  in a salted mud made from the soil from an ant hill.

    I plan to use chicken eggs this time minus the mud. The brine method seems a lot easier and sanitary.  I have a supplier who regularly gives me really large chicken eggs which weigh  75 –  80 grams although I know they have even larger eggs and eggs with double yolks.

    I think a basket of really big double yolk salted eggs would make a great gift.  

  • Pingback: Easter Egg Hunting “Itlog Na Maalat” – Filipino Red Salted Eggs « pigpartsandbeer

  • http://blog.junbelen.com/ Jun Belen

    Yes, it would make a great gift! Perfect for Easter!

  • Pingback: Easter Egg Hunting “Itlog Na Maalat” – Filipino Red Salted Eggs | Pig Parts and Beer

  • Pingback: U is for Ube and How to Make Ube Macapuno Empanadas | Jun-Blog

  • Pingback: V is for Visayas and How to Make Humba (Visayan-Style Pork Adobo) | Jun-Blog