By: Kimberlee Au
During the month of January, Chapman University offers a Food Industry Tour class where students get to see various food production facilities. One week, our class went to Balut Pateros, a small blink-and-you’ll-miss-it store in Westminster, CA that produces and sells chicken and duck eggs. Among the items being sold are pickled eggs, chicken and duck balut, salted duck eggs, and fresh poultry eggs. During our tour of his small facility, the owner, Thomas Dam, told us that he wants to start making and selling another kind of egg: the century egg. He claimed that the U.S. would stop importing them from China come June due to China’s lack of food safety and regulation laws
Long story short, each one of us was given the task (shall we choose to accept it) of producing a century egg using only US ingredients, and the person who comes closest to what he is looking for is awarded a prize. Mr. Dam was kind enough to supply us with a finished example of his desired product as well as a dozen fresh duck eggs for our experimentation.
It just so happens that I love century eggs. Introduced to me as pei dan, (literally “skin egg”), it was always served diced in congee or sliced into wedges with a side of oyster sauce for dipping. But I’ve never had a duck egg in any form other than pei dan. Luckily, I have a dozen fresh ones in my refrigerator right now, thanks to Mr. Dam, which allowed me to explore the differences between duck and chicken eggs.
The first difference I noticed was that the duck egg had a more oblong shape than the chicken egg. Then I cracked open each of them into a dish to examine them in their raw state. Notice how the albumen of the chicken egg has a slight yellow tint to it whereas the duck albumen is clear. Unfortunately, after a number of Google searches, I still haven’t found the reason for this observation.
I debated which method of cooking would best display the flavor of the eggs. Sunny side up is always visually pleasing since you can see the yolk clearly, but I don’t really like runny yolks unless they’re oozing over a pile of hot fried rice. My current favorite style is poached with the yolk left slightly runny since I can cook it in the microwave, eliminating the chances of me overcooking it and reducing the number of dishes I have to wash.
After microwaving the eggs separately for one minute and ten seconds in a small amount of water, I tasted the whites first for any textural or flavor differences, and there were none that I could tell. But visually, the whites of the duck egg were much more appealing. The chicken egg produced an uneven result while the duck egg white was much smoother, which may be the due to the fact that duck albumen has a slightly higher protein-to-water ratio than chicken albumen. As for the yolks, the chicken yolk was your regular run-of-the-mill yolk. I didn’t use anything fancy, these were conventionally raised and came from Trader Joe’s. I know that how poultry is raised and fed can affect egg quality and nutrient content; however, even if I did use the aforementioned fancy eggs, I still wouldn’t be able to fairly compare it to the duck eggs since I do not know the ducks’ history.
As for the duck yolk, there was definitely a difference. Simply put, yolk-ier, richer than the chicken egg. It had a creamier texture, but a flavor similar to the chicken yolk. On average, a duck egg yolk contains about 3 more grams of fat than that of a chicken, including mono- and poly-unsaturated fat, not just saturated fat. The higher fat content translates to higher micronutrient content than chicken egg yolks, particularly iron and vitamin B-12 levels .
During my research on these eggs, I read that the higher fat and protein content of duck eggs make them ideal for use in baking since baked goods tend to rise better and taste richer than when chicken eggs are used. If I have any leftover duck eggs after trying my hand at Mr. Dam’s challenge, I will definitely test their abilities in a cake or soufflé recipe and report back the results.
Have you ever tried eggs from any animal other than a chicken?
Only from fish, not too fond of caviar, but I love me some tobiko!
I have never tried any other eggs but baking with duck eggs sounds intriguing! The extra fat content sounds like a delicious souffle in the making. Good luck with the century egg. I am excited to see what you can produce!
I lived in London for a couple of months. I was surprised to see that they have duck eggs at their supermarkets. I think I might have seen turkey eggs and goose eggs there too. I agree with your evaluation of the duck eggs. They are much more flavorful and rich. I didn’t get a chance to bake anything with them because my kitchen was so small, but if I can get my hands on some here I might try to make a souffle or macaroons with them.
Would you happen to know where they sell them here?