In the not-so-distant past, we only encountered salted eggs as puto or bibingka toppings, or mixed with tomatoes for a breakfast side dish that never gets old. Dishes like salted egg yolk crabs or prawns were considered fancy delicacies, usually reserved for special occasions.
Fast forward to 2017: the humble itlog na maalat is now everywhere. You can have salted egg pasta for lunch, a salted egg bun for dessert, salted egg chips for merienda, and some salted egg pork ribs for dinner. Even KFC has jumped on the bandwagon, causing foodies across the nation to drool after news that it might soon release a Salted Egg Chicken dish spread online.
“I think it really started late 2015 to early 2016, when people started bringing home salted egg chips from a popular brand in Singapore. People lined up for it there, so as expected, Filipinos caught up with the craze,” says Yummy Associate Editor Idge Mendiola when asked about the origin of this food fad.
Good Housekeeping Food Editor Roselle Miranda adds that salted egg custard buns further boosted the ingredient's popularity in the country.
“Crystal Jade, if I'm not mistaken, has always had salted egg buns. It wasn't until more Chinese restaurants opened last year and started serving salted egg buns that the trend rose to popularity even further,” she recalls.
With the sudden explosion of everything salted egg in the Philippine food scene, it can be difficult to distinguish the best ones among among the lot.
“Whether sweet or savory, you must be able to taste it,” says Roselle. “The combination of flavors accompanying the salted egg should be complimentary so it needs to taste good together with the salted egg.”
Adds Idge: “For me, it has to be the perfect balance. If it's savory, it shouldn't be too salty, and it's good to have some spice mixed in there. If it's something sweet, you should still get to taste the saltiness of the dish.”
Ready to start your salted egg food hunt? Here's where you can find some of the best ones in town:
1) Salted Egg Bacon Fettuccine (Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza)
We're big fans of almost everything served at Gino's, including this classic dish. Creamy and flavor-packed without being overwhelming, it's a must-try.
2) Salted Egg Yolk Buns
Fluffy siopao bread + savory-sweet salted egg = a match made in heaven. “I love the salted egg yolk buns of Din Tai Fung! Those are amazing,” says Idge. Roselle, on the other hand, prefers Crystal Jade's version. “The custard inside tastes as well as feels like it's made from real itlog na maalat egg yolks. It looks like a salted egg yolk too with its orange-hued buns!” Too broke? Try 7-Eleven's Egg Custard Pao—at only P25 per piece, it’s not bad at all.
3) Salted Egg Prawns (Din Tai Fung)
Salted egg prawns are a staple at most Chinese places in the city, but the one at Din Tai Fung, a Philippine special, is a sure bet. “I can eat [it] every day,” says Idge.
4) Salted Egg Chips
There are so many places out there where you can get some of this stuff, but House of Crisps' version is the bomb. Perfectly crunchy potato slices coated in thick, flavorful coat of salted egg goodness. Really, what more could you ask for?
5) String Beans With Salted Egg (Lugang Cafe)
This one's a healthy, no-frills dish for all gulay lovers out there. The best part: it's so easy to whip up that you could do it yourself at home!
6) Salted Egg Ice Cream
You'll have to do a bit of sleuthing for this elusive flavor as only a few places carry it. Sebastian's has a frozen salted egg concoction available from time to time, while the Manila Hotel’s Mabuhay Palace has a salted egg ice cream that's been raved about for years. Want to eat ice cream for a very good cause? Try the salted egg caramel flavor from Karabella Dairy, a Gawad Kalinga social enterprise.
7) Salted Egg Popcorn (Chef Tony’s Gourmet Popcorn)
This one's a special re-promote for Yummy's 10th anniversary. If you didn't get the chance to try it last year, you better hurry to catch it this time—it'll only be around for a few months!