That’s not grated cheese on top of the congee. That’s grated salted egg yolks. Uncooked egg yolks, believe it or not, that has acquired the texture of semi-hard cheese.
Another Alex Veneracion experiment. She’s been very experimental since she and I went to Saigon. She said got the idea from the web, she was curious so she followed the instructions.
Alex baked rock salt to remove moisture then cooled it before stirring in sugar. Cooling the salt is crucial because if sugar is added to hot salt, the sugar will just melt.
The salt-sugar mixture was spread in a container until it reached a depth of about two inches. Alex created “wells” in the mixture each large enough to contain an egg yolk.
A raw egg yolk was dropped into each well and covered with the salt-sugar mixture. The container was kept in the fridge for almost two months. Alex said it could have been shorter but, upon checking the egg yolks after two weeks, they were still soft. So she put them back in the fridge.
And time just went by. Her sister and I went to Hanoi and, a month later, her dad and I went to Taiwan. All the while, we’ve been having house renovations. If it hadn’t been imperative to clear the fridge prior to the kitchen renovation, Alex might have forgotten about the egg yolks completely.
But fate was smiling upon her and her little experiment, it seemed. Two months after the egg yolks first went into the salt-sugar mixture, they were just perfect. Grated like cheese, tasted like cheese and even had the color of cheese.
Be warned though that these salted egg yolks are meant as a garnish. Eaten by themselves, the flavor is too strong for a pleasant experience.
For the salted egg yolks
- 2 cups rock salt
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 4 large egg yolks raw
To complete the dish
- cooked congee
- basil chiffonade optional
- Preheat the oven to 375F.
- Spread the salt in a tray and bake for 40 minutes or until dry. Stir every 10 minutes or so for even drying. Cool the salt to room temperature.
- Stir the sugar into the salt.
- Spread the salt-sugar mixture in a container. The mixture should be about two inches high. The container should be large enough to hold the four egg yolks without touching one another.
- Using your finger or the back of a teaspoon, create four wells in the salt-sugar mixture.
- Drop an egg yolk into each well and cover with the same salt-sugar mixture.
- Cover the container and keep the eggs in the fridge for two weeks to two months. Check every two weeks or so to see if the yolks have hardened. You may use them as soon as they are hard enough to grate.
- Cook enough congee for four people. This can take a couple of house on the stovetop or about eight hours in a slow cooker. See tips on cooking congee.
- Ladle congee into four bowls.
- Grate a salted egg yolk directly into the congee in each bowl.
- Garnish the salted egg congee with basil, if you like, before serving.
If you cooked this dish (or made this drink) and you want to share your masterpiece, please use your own photos and write the cooking steps in your own words.