“Salted eggs are my favourite souvenirs from Surat Thani! I always bring back a couple of boxes to give to friends as gifts,” declared M, my Thai friend.
I was one of the lucky friends who received a box of Surat Thani salted duck eggs from M. And boy, was I delighted when I received the eggs. Salted eggs from Surat Thani’s Chaiya district are famed in Thailand for their distinctly red yolks and having the right balance of saltiness. The ducks in this coastal province are fed on a diet of rice and seafood (what good life!). During the production process, local farmers coat the eggs with a black clay mixture made from a unique blend of salt, water, husk and soil harvested from termite mounds—apparently, this method isn’t just unique to Chaiya nor Thailand only; Filipinos are also known to deploy this method.
I first heard about Chaiya salted eggs when I watched the Taiwanese food program, “Mei Shi Da San Tong” (《美食大三通》), hosted by Zeng Guo Cheng. In one episode about Thai cuisine, Zeng headed to Surat Thani to find out more about these famous eggs, unveiling the production process and sampling a wide array of salted egg dishes along the way. Since then, I’ve been wanting to do a similar salted egg hunt in Surat Thani, and this may come into fruition when my family and I go on a planned vacation to Thailand’s south sometime later this year.
Anyway, back to the salted eggs back in my kitchen. Printed on the box is also information that specifies the date until which the eggs can be fried, after which they are recommended to be boiled only. It’s probably not new knowledge to many others but I just learned that salted duck eggs, just like chicken eggs, can be fried too. And I also learned that it’s easy to make your own salted eggs at home: just store the eggs in a brine solution for approximately 30 days and voila, you’ll get your own salty creations.
As we were still within the frying validity, we did a quick fry of the salted eggs to create sunny-side-ups. After cooking, the yolks still retained their globular shapes, and were fresh and chewy to the taste. Just seeing it on top of my rice made me happy!