Salted egg yolk popcorn is popping up all over the internet lately. But what is it? Where does it come from? What makes it so delicious? And is salted egg yolk popcorn a healthy snack? In this post, we will answer all of these questions and more!
What Is Salted Egg Yolk Popcorn?
Salted egg yolk popcorn is a sweet and savory snack typically made out of salted egg yolks, popcorn, and some kind of sugar. Traditionally, salted egg yolk popcorn involves a sauce made from mashed salted duck egg yolks, a fatty ingredient like butter or neutral oil, sugar, and optional additional spices.
Where Does Salted Egg Yolk Popcorn Come From?
A popular snack in Asian countries and originating from Taiwan, this umami-rich appetizer has all the satisfying savoriness of an indulgent main course with a hint of sweetness to balance out the richness. The ingredient of salted egg yolks, however, is traced back to China.
Where Can I Buy Salted Egg Yolks?
Of course, anything can be bought online these days–but did you know that you can buy salted duck egg yolks in the form of a paste at your local Asian market? Better yet, if you have a few weeks and a few extra egg yolks, make them yourself using this simple method.
What Makes Egg Yolk Popcorn Delicious?
While egg yolk popcorn enjoys additional snackability thanks to the addition of sugar (or even MSG powder in some cases), the bulk of its tastiness comes from the naturally-occurring free glutamates in the salted egg yolks themselves. The richness from the yolks offers an indulgent creaminess while the sugar tempers the powerfully salty flavor. Add a little butter and you’ve got the ultimate savory snack!
Is There MSG In Eggs? Is There MSG in Salt-Cured Eggs?
MSG, or Monosodium Glutamate, is an ingredient often added to foods to boost their savoriness or cravability–often in the form of a powder. Examples of foods containing MSG powder include savory goods like flavored chips, packaged ramen, and other processed foods. Monosodium Glutamate is classified as an excitotoxin as it can cause symptoms like migraines or asthma if eaten to excess–however, the FDA still regulates it as safe for consumption in small doses. But did you know that glutamate is a naturally-occurring amino acid present in many foods you may already love?
Found in foods like meat, cheese, vegetables, and yes, even eggs, glutamate occurs either bound in a protein or “free.” Free glutamates are associated with increased umami in comparison to their bound counterparts. Generally speaking, the more free glutamates a food has, the tastier it will be. Part of the beauty of fermentation and other methods of preserving food is that it breaks down the proteins, creating even more delicious free glutamates to enjoy.
So while there are free glutamates in regular egg yolks, there are even more in salt-cured egg yolks. This is because the process of salting them preserves the yolks in the same way that lactic acid preserves the cabbage in sauerkraut. Thank you, bacteria!
What Do Salt-Cured Egg Yolks Taste Like?
Many liken the flavor of salt-cured egg yolks to cheese, and with good reason; there is a creaminess from the fat of the yolk that is almost nutty in flavor. However, because the yolks are technically fermented, the predominating flavor is funky and salty–kind of like fish sauce.
Are Salted Egg Yolks High in Cholesterol?
If you are watching your cholesterol intake but still want to cook with your salt-cured egg yolks, this popcorn recipe is perfect for you. With a fraction of the salted egg yolk used in versions requiring up to 6 whole yolks (well outside the recommended range of cholesterol intake for a single day), this salted egg yolk popcorn hits all the savory flavor notes without the associated damage to the arteries. For your reference, a single chicken egg yolk typically has around 187 grams of cholesterol.
The dangerous thing about salt-cured egg yolks is the sodium content. One salted egg yolk can contain as much as 680 milligrams of sodium–so use this ingredient judiciously! A little bit goes a long way…
How to Eat Salt-Cured Egg Yolks
If you’re curious about making salt-cured egg yolks but wondering how to cook with them, you are not alone. However, when it comes to this particular kitchen project, the sky’s the limit on savory dishes. I prefer it on top of my pasta in lieu of cheese, but it can be a great boost of flavor for rice or risotto, buttered bread, soups, or even meat dishes. Some of the best ways to use those salt-cured yolks include grating them over:
- polenta or savory grains
- grilled corn
- creamy pasta dishes or ravioli
- over a caesar salad in lieu of parmesan
- breaded chicken cutlets
- herby roasted mushrooms
Beginner’s Salted Egg Yolk Popcorn Recipe
I hope you will love making this popcorn as much as I enjoyed eating it. If you were wondering what to do with your salt-cured egg yolks, this recipe allows them to take center stage!
Salted Egg Yolk Popcorn (From Salt-Cured Yolks)
- 1 mortar and pestle
- 1/2 salt-cured egg yolk, finely grated
- 1/3 cup popcorn kernels
- 1-2 Tbs neutral oil, or enough to coat the kernels
- 2 tsp white sugar, divided
- 3 Tbs butter, melted
- 1/2 tsp sumac (optional)
- Using a microplane zester or a box grater on the finest setting, grate approximately one half of your salt-cured egg yolk. You should have about 1 heaping tablespoon of grated yolk.
- Place popcorn kernels and oil in a large saucepan and swirl until all the kernels are coated. Place a lid over the mixture and set to medium high heat, cooking until most of the kernels have stopped popping. This should take between 4-10 minutes.
- While the popcorn is popping, melt the butter in the microwave or on the stove top. Place 1 teaspoon of sugar and the grated egg yolk into your mortar and pestle. Combine until the sugar is incorporated and you have a paste, not chunks. Add the remaining teaspoon of sugar into the hot butter and stir until dissolved. Add the egg yolk paste to the sugar and butter mixture, and stir to combine. The mixture should form a loose sauce.
- When most of the popcorn kernels have finished popping, remove from heat and immediately pour the popcorn into a large, wide bowl. Drizzle the sauce over the kernels evenly and mix with a wooden spoon to distribute. Sprinkle the optional sumac over the kernels and serve immediately.