They’re called shoyu tamago in Japanese; the simplest English translation of the Chinese name is braised soy sauce eggs. They are served as a snack, as a topping for congee or as one of the many dishes in a bento box.
The name might suggest that there’s nothing to making this delicacy but soaking boiled eggs in soy sauce but there’s a little bit more to it than that.
First of all, “boiled” doesn’t necessarily mean hard-boiled. The eggs can be a little less cooked so that the yolks are still runny. The egg white, however, must be sufficiently cooked so that it is firm enough that when the egg is shelled, it doesn’t break and expose the soft yolk.
Second, the soy sauce in which the eggs are soaked isn’t soy sauce alone. A few other things are added. Rice wine and rice vinegar are not uncommon but other seasonings such as black pepper or chilies can be added too.
Third, the eggs don’t benefit from a really long soaking time. Leave them in the soy sauce mixture for too long and the eggs will turn out too salty. Fifteen minutes or so are enough to allow the eggs to acquire a good color and to absorb the flavors in the sauce.
If, however, you are not in a hurry to serve the eggs, you can soak them in the fridge overnight BUT you will have to dilute the soy sauce mixture with water. I did not want to do that because I wanted the soy sauce mixture to be usable for seasoning other dishes in the future.
A few final notes…
For a guide on boiling eggs, see How to boil eggs (and about hard-to-peel boiled eggs) and Egg Master App: taking the guesswork out of boiling eggs.
Light soy sauce has a different flavor and hue than the traditional dark soy sauce in the Philippines. Rice vinegar is mild and subtly sweet; so is rice wine. The highly acidic Filipino vinegar is too strong. Any generic cooking rice wine is good to use but if you prefer more Japanese flavors, use mirin or sake. If you use a substitute for one or more of these three ingredients, the eggs will have a different flavor and color. I don’t know if they will taste good or bad.
- 1/2 cup light soy sauce (I used Kikkoman)
- 2 tablespoons rice wine
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 4 boiled eggs
- Mix together the soy sauce, rice wine and rice vinegar in a bowl.
- Drop the shelled eggs into the mixture and leave for about 15 minutes. If the eggs are not completely submerged, use a teaspoon to roll them around every few minutes.
- Drain the eggs, cut into halves if you prefer and serve.