Beginner’s Salted Egg Yolk Popcorn Recipe

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.

salt-cured egg yolks recipe

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
  • toast
  • creamy pasta dishes or ravioli
  • pizza
  • over a caesar salad in lieu of parmesan
  • breaded chicken cutlets
  • herby roasted mushrooms

Beginner’s Salted Egg Yolk Popcorn Recipe

salt-cured egg yolks, butter, sugar, sumac, 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

Salted Egg Yolk Popcorn (From Salt-Cured Yolks)

Salty, creamy preserved egg yolks come together with butter and a dash of sumac for a rich and tangy popcorn dish you will love!
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Appetizer, Snack
Servings 2 people


  • 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.
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Pasta Carbonara

If you, like me, have been hoarding boxes of pasta over the course of the pandemic, you may be getting tired of your same old noodle routines. We all have the recipe rotations we keep in our back pocket for those nights following long days during which we haven’t had much bandwidth to think about dinner. Part of the beauty of a recipe like pasta carbonara is that the scratch-made sauce that takes moments to come together; even better, it maximizes flavor with only a few simple ingredients. This is a great one for everything from fancy date nights to “Oh my gosh I am so tired but can’t do canned red sauce even one more time this week” dinners!

A Brief History of Pasta

The origins of pasta as we know it are somewhat in dispute: there are those who claim it dates as far back as 3000 B.C. in China, and those who attest it had a parallel birthplace in 1100s Sicily. Regardless of origin, pasta has always held global appeal and been a cheap, reliable, appealing way to fill a belly.

According to “Italics Magazine,” an Italian magazine written in English, pasta as we know it was originally closer to lasagne than spaghetti. In the 1st century A.D, Horace, the Roman poet, wrote of “lagana,” a dish made of sheets of fried dough which may or may not have been stuffed with layers of meat.

Writings from 3rd century Palestine describe “itriyya,” a semolina-based dough cut into strips, dried, and then boiled. An Arab lexicographer and physician named Isho bar Ali described this ancient cousin of pasta in detail, and wrote of the industry surrounding it–ships sent the itriyya to “Calabria, to Muslim and Christian countries,” noting “very many shiploads are sent.”

As a result of extensive trading in the Middle Ages, food historians estimate pasta began to take on different shapes. Sicily may be credited with couscous; by the 13th century, pasta shapes like gnocchi, ravioli, vermicelli, and macaroni spread across the Italian peninsula.

Naples emerged as the leading producer and consumer of pasta in the 17th century. Pasta’s increasing popularity may have been due to the fact that it was a dish accessible to those who did not have the means to purchase meat for their meals. The Industrial Revolution saw the advent of machines like the torchio, which was a mechanical press designed to cut dough into thin pieces. The first license for a pasta factory was written in Venice in 1740.

In 1877, in the town of Parma, Italy, Pietro Barilla began one of the most successful pasta businesses still in production today.

Pasta’s Story Isn’t Over

Some pasta shape traditionalists attest that the record for existing pasta shapes is set in stone. Pasta-curious podcast host Dan Pashman challenged the status quo this year by setting out to create the “perfect” pasta shape: able to be speared by a fork and retain sauce, and toothsome enough to have a decent chew.

According to the New York Times, he worked with Sfoglini, a pasta company based in New York, to put the wheels in motion and create a riff on tradition. After nearly three years of research, they made the bronze casting capable of bringing Pashman’s dream to fruition and a new shape was born!

Enter cascatelli, a word derived from the Italian “cascata,” meaning waterfall. This new noodle is available for purchase online and was even recommended by the NYT article to be paired with–you guessed it–carbonara sauce!

Photo from the New York Times

So What About Carbonara?

If you, like me, impulsively purchased every available box of bucatini after the great bucatini shortage of 2020, a more traditional pasta shape would lend itself just as well to carbonara, a dish which may have origins reaching back to Italian coal miners, as it was colloquially called “coal miner’s spaghetti.” (“Carbonaro” is the Italian word for charcoal burner.)

While it is possible, of course, to eat whatever shape of pasta you like, it is recommended that you choose a shape with a large ratio of surface area to volume, like spaghetti, bucatini, or fettuccine in order to cook the eggs in the sauce properly. Let your heart be your guide!

You gotta love a tasty dish with simple ingredients…and how can you go wrong with that much cheese??

Gather the ingredients. Grate the cheese, whisk the eggs with salt and heavy pepper, cook the bacon…

Whisk cheese into the eggs and place in a large bowl while the pasta is cooking. Enjoy a little mental “vacation” while all you have to do is stare into a pot of boiling water, stirring occasionally…

When the pasta is al dente, drain and add to the egg and cheese mixture, tossing vigorously. Serve immediately topped with more cheese if desired, or grated salt cured egg yolk.

Or, if you are hedonistic like me, add both cheese and yolks!

Note: the pasta will loose a lot of heat when transferred from colander to cold bowl with cold sauce. Have whoever you are feeding on call and ready to eat! 🙂

Pasta Carbonara

Al dente pasta cooked bacon or guanciale is tossed in raw eggs, cheese, and salt and pepper, cooking the eggs and turning them into a delicious, creamy sauce.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 2 people


  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated pecorino Romano
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste
  • 8 oz pasta (bucatini, spaghetti, or fettuccine are traditional)
  • 5 pieces thick cut bacon (guanciale or pancetta are more traditional, so feel free to sub)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil if using guanciale or pancetta (otherwise, omit)


  • Heat the oven to 425°F. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
  • Lay bacon on a metal rack over a sheet track with a lip, and cook bacon in the preheated oven for 10-15 minutes, until thoroughly cooked but not crispy. Chop or snip bacon into 1/2" pieces and set aside.
  • In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, yolks, and both cheeses. Season with a small pinch of salt (bearing in mind the pasta water is salted and the bacon contributes a significant amount of salt) and a generous crack of fresh pepper. Set aside.
  • Cook pasta until al dente, 8-12 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a serving bowl with hot water to preheat.
  • Drain pasta when al dente, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. Dump hot water from serving bowl, patting dry with a towel. Add pasta to the warmed bowl, followed by the egg and cheese mixture, tossing continuously. If desired, add some pasta water for additional creaminess.
  • Serve immediately with more cheese, fresh pepper, or salt-cured egg yolks if desired.
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Salt-Cured Egg Yolks

Have you ever bit into something so delicious it was nearly impossible not to crave another bite? Snapped into the perfectly-seasoned chip, slurped some savory ramen, chewed through mouthfuls of crusty, tomato-y pizza?

Have you ever wondered just what it is about these dishes that makes them so hard to pass up?

The answer is “umami,” a Japanese word that literally translates to “pleasant savory taste.”

Umami has roots as far back as 1908 when it was discovered by Kikunae Ikeda, a Japanese chemist. This flavor sensation is often described as “brothy” or “meat-like” with a lingering, mouth-watering effect that coats the tongue. This phenomenon correlates to the presence of glutamates and certain ribonucleotides in food, which can be made even more pronounced by adding salt.

Fermented fish sauces and soy sauce are some of our most ancient representations of umami, which have been traced back as far as the third century in China. Dried bonito flakes, kombu seaweed, tomato paste, parmesan cheese, shrimp, nutritional yeast, shiitake mushrooms, and leeks are some examples of ingredients that are rich in umami. One easy “cheat” for enhancing umami is created by adding MSG powder, short for monosodium glutamate*–this is a powdered combination of salt and glutamic acid, otherwise known as sodium salt; this provides a great savory boost to whatever you are seasoning.

Glutamates make up approximately half of the ingredients in breast milk, so you may be even more familiar with umami than you thought! Interestingly, some studies suggest that umami both stimulates appetite and contributes to satiety, making it an ideal addition to nearly any dish.

What Do Salt-Cured Egg Yolks Have to Do With Umami?

I am always looking for more ways to sneak umami into dishes. Salt-cured egg yolks are an easy way to add a flavorful boost to your meal, and could even be used to replace parmesan cheese for those who are sensitive to dairy or are simply trying to cut back. What’s more, they keep almost indefinitely in an airtight container in the fridge!

All you need for this recipe are high-quality egg yolks, preferably from local hens, fine kosher salt, cheesecloth, and time.

Here I’ve separated my yolks and poured my salt into a bowl.

The yolks are then nestled into depressions, then completely covered with salt. These sit this way undisturbed for one week in the fridge. Here’s what they look like after seven days:

salt-cured egg yolks recipe

At this stage, the yolks are wrapped loosely in cheesecloth and hung in the fridge to air cure for one to two more weeks, or until they are completely dry. (Note, they will still be a little tacky to the touch, but should be generally firm.)

recipe for salt-cured egg yolks

Gloriously lumpy, these salt-cured egg yolks have already graced the top of my pasta carbonara and may even find their way onto my popcorn later…recipe for carbonara coming next week!

pasta carbonara with salt cured egg yolk and parmesan

*Some have drawn correlations between MSG consumption and asthma, migraines, and brain damage–however, the FDA still regulates MSG as safe. Glutamates are abundant in nature (as I mentioned earlier, they make up over 50% of the ingredients naturally occurring in breast milk), and glutamic acid works as an excitatory neurotransmitter. This means that in order to relay a message, it stimulates nerve cells. Some folks argue this can be done to excess, which is why MSG has been labeled an excitotoxin. A study completed in 1969 studied mice that were given large injections of MSG, which caused harmful neurological effects. However, when consumed in normal amounts, dietary glutamate should have imperceptible effects on the brain as it cannot cross the blood-brain barrier. Of course, there are those who are more sensitive to MSG than others; symptoms of this include flushing, muscle tightness, tingling, numbness, and headaches or migraines.

Salt-Cured Egg Yolks

Using the simple ingredients of high-quality eggs and fine kosher salt, these hardened egg yolks make for an easy burst of flavor to grate over anything from pizza and pasta to popcorn.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Curing Time 21 days
Total Time 21 days 5 minutes
Course Seasoning, Side Dish, Spice
Cuisine American


  • cheese cloth


  • 4 high quality eggs, preferably local
  • 1 box fine kosher salt or pickling salt


  • Crack the eggs and separate the yolks from the whites. Reserve the whites for later use.
  • Pour about 1/2"-3/4" of salt into a bowl or tupperware large enough to fit all four yolks widthwise with at least 1/2" space in between. Using your finger, create little impressions in the salt for the yolks, making sure to leave some salt at the bottom of the depression and not scratching the bowl bare. Carefully place the yolks into their depressions, then cover completely with salt. Seal or wrap with plastic wrap and place in the fridge undisturbed for one week.
  • After one week, remove yolks from fridge. Carefully comb through the salt and brush the yolks free from the majority of the salt.
  • Wrap yolks loosely in cheese cloth and allow to air dry or "cure" in the fridge 1 to 2 more weeks, or until thoroughly hardened. (Note: They may be a little tacky but should be completely firm.) These keep almost indefinitely in an airtight container, and can be grated over a dish to accentuate umami flavors.
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