Fish Skins with Salted Egg, Butter and Curry Leaves a la Marketman

Rarely have I tried to replicate something I have never ever cooked before and end up with results this good, the first time around. So the inspiration was the legendary lines and forced rationing of salted egg fish skins by a purveyor in the lobby of SM Megamall. The things people did to get their cravings satisfied. So when one of our managers from Cebu had someone line up before the stall even opened (the advantages of having earlier access for employees) I knew I had to check this product out. I must state categorically that I am not really a huge fan of salted egg dishes, and missed most of the current trend to have it on everything under the sun like potato chips, so I was not the fawning fan of anything salted egg… but when we finally opened a PHP600 large bag of the legendary Singaporean fish skins, I must admit I was intrigued enough to give it a very objective taste, meaning, without wanting not to like it. It was pretty good, and I can see how some folks would really like it, but it wasn’t going to take over my personal preference for say, Doritos or Salt and Vinegar potato chips, but that’s just me. The story could have ended there. But everyone else seemed to think I was a strange bird for not jumping on the salted egg bandwagon.

But as usual on this blog, there is a back story to all this. A few months ago, shortly after we opened Zubuchon in Manila, an old friend and avid blog reader from a decade back, Marla, handed me a bag with a weighty present inside, she was kind of sheepishly amused how I would react to a commercial, foil-wrapped bag of Knorr salted egg powder… I noticed it was MSG-free (yay!) and I promised to put it to good use at some point. One thing led to another and it ended up in an office cabinet for a few months, untouched.

I had tried cooking salted egg based dishes before (see here, inspired by another long-time reader, Millet of Davao), using real salted eggs, but now I know exactly why this trend was expanding at a rapid pace, because the key ingredient was now so conveniently and readily available. Unilever and Knorr are brilliant in many ways, my only wish is that they make sinigang mix and other local mixes with an option that is MSG-free, like they do with chicken cubes elsewhere in Asia… So thanks Marla, this experiment is thanks in part to your key “secret” ingredient… :)

But the other part of the story is that local, artisanal dried fish skins are something we have in stock at Zubuchon. We serve a dish that pairs fried fish skins with kinilaw, and it has since been copied by many other restaurants in Cebu and elsewhere. So besides the salted egg powder, we had the fish skins. And as luck would have it, I have a small curry leaf tree growing out in the yard, so all I needed was some margarine and chilies. I couldn’t get myself to use margarine, just couldn’t, and opted for canned Queensland butter instead. Though perhaps I should have stuck to the margarine called for in most recipes on the internet.

Into a pot I put some butter, chilies, fresh curry leaves and brought this to a simmer and added several tablespoons of the salted egg powder.

I eyeballed it at this point, and if anything, I could have added even more salted egg powder as my sauce was kinda thin. I added two teaspoons of sugar for a touch of sweetness as well.

Meanwhile, fry up the fish skins and take care NOT to over-fry them, which is a just a split second longer than you think. It is critical they are slightly under- rather than over-done as they get another round in the oven to dry the sauce out. Notice the skins in the back, they were overcooked and bordering on evil. :( Salt the freshly fried fish skins as soon as they emerge from the fat. If you use lard, you will be on my short-list of FWAFOL’s (Friends Who Are Fond of Lard). Hahaha.

Take your previously made sauce and sprinkle liberally over the fried fish skins and sprinkle some salted egg powder over everything. I did this on both sides of the fish crackers, which was a bit exagge, but more is better in this case, I think.

Stick this all into a low heat oven say 230-250F for 15 or so minutes until the sauce dries out a bit. Dry on paper towels to mop up excess oil and enjoy. They were delicious! But delicious! And relatively oh so easy to make, albeit with a few hard to find ingredients. I am thinking of offering a variant which would include fried fish skins with the butter and salted egg sauce on the side to dip into… Experiment was a total success! :)


29 Responses

  1. Is the salted egg powder available here? I love Irvin’s salted egg fish skin more than the potato chips but yours look better and more generous with the sauce?

  2. Is the salted egg powder available here? I love Irvin’s salted egg fish skin more than the potato chips but yours look better and more generous with the sauce :)

  3. @ Betchay, I was intrigued myself, so tried to look for it online. Surprise, Unilever Ph distributes it via Lazada :D Will have a go at it later this year myself hehe

  4. Yes, the powder is available locally. And weekend markets sometimes carry curry leaves… though I am not sure what a reasonable substitute might be…

  5. You’re welcome! :) As if I couldn’t love those fish tacos any more than I already do. Looking forward to this coming out on the menu! Basil leaves can be substituted for the curry leaves. We used sage at home and that worked, too.

    The powder is available only in institutional packs. Although some enterprising vendors repack them in smaller bags. Saw some in Eastwood in one of their weekend markets.

  6. McCormick has MSG free mixes and bouillon cubes though I find them hard to come by. Hi Top carries them.

  7. Who knew there was such a thing as salted egg powder? The dishes I’ve tried have only used actual eggs.

  8. First heard of it here, could hardly believe it has been seven years. It quickly became one of my guilty pleasures (if guilt were ever a part of any of my pleasures).

    I hope a groundswell of demand compels Knorr to make it generally available. It would be heaven sent to those who resort to boiled or raw salted duck eggs from China, just one of a number of the most revolting foods I erred venturing to. Fortunately, salted duck egg yolks, also from China, just the yolks, are also available where I live.

    @Esquire, curry leaves are only intermittently available here so I use Thai basil, no substitute but a novel replacement.

  9. Footloose, you can try making your own salted chicken or duck eggs at home… I understand it isn’t that hard to do, though I haven’t done it myself.

  10. Hello! in any case did your friend told you where she got that powdered gold from? Im a big big big fan of salted egg dishes and i make it everytime i crave for it. I live here in dubai and i might bring a bag(or 2 :D) back here when i go for a vacation there. Thaaaaaaanks! :)

  11. Wes, my friend works for Unilever, so I believe the powder came from them. I understand it is for sale in wholesale packets, but not sure where it can be purchased. A reader above mentions it is available via Lazada, an on-line retailer…

  12. Landmark supermarket in Festival Mall Alabang sells the Knorr Salted egg powder but its a bit pricey. If I remember it right, its about P800++.

  13. wilde, ours come from molmol or parrot fish and grouper or lapu-lapu. They are the byproduct of fillets, and used to be thrown out until someone had the brilliant idea to dry them…

  14. I learned about shrimp with salted egg sauce only last January 2017. I immediately made my own salted eggs (30 days). Then my 2 sisters from Vegas came to visit me. I cooked some royal red shrimp (the best I have tasted) with salted egg sauce. Wow, it was really delicious over steamed japanese rice. So every first week of the month I cooked this recipe. Yum, yum!

  15. MM a teaspoon or so of full cream powdered milk rounds out the flavor. It makes the sauce yummier.

  16. Marcela, yes, thanks for that, I had read that from other recipes and from the ingredients list of the popular snack, will have to try that as well! Thanks!

  17. maybe a dry mix of salted egg powder, cayenne, pinch of curry powder or finely ground dried curry leaves, powdered sugar and popcorn salt in a bag.. add the freshly fried fish skins and shake shake shake.. skipped the baking time! hehe. the dip on the side idea would work great for your restaurant. bottle and sell the dip/sauce! :-)

  18. I am intrigued by this. I like fish skin when it’s crisp (as from a grilled fish, or like the salmon skin used in sushi). Sort of a carnivorous crisp.

    I am not sure what “salted egg” is–I have had salt-cured egg yolk, which I like (though I do not really care for the Chinese-style preserved egg), and wonder if that is the same thing you are using here? Or does “salted egg” include both yolk and white?

    I have not (yet) tried curing hen’s eggs in salt, but I have salt-cured both cod and shad roe to make bottarga, which is delicious on pasta.

    Another question: why canned (tinned) butter? I understand avoiding margarine (ugh!) but surely fresh butter would be better? I admit I have never even seen a tin of butter, let alone tasted it, but it just seems that fresh would be nicer than tinned.

  19. kurzhaar, the salted egg I am referring to is whole eggs, that are soaked in a high saline solution and boiled (or boiled and soaked) and are traditionally colored red in the Philippines to distinguish them from regular eggs. They often use duck eggs for a larger size and richer taste. So it does include the yolks and whites…

  20. Interesting. I am trying to imagine what a boiled salted whole egg is like. Is the texture rather like that of an ordinary boiled egg, then?

    I looked up Unilever salted egg powder and apparently this is made just from the yolks. So it is probably not too far from the salt-cured yolks I have made at home.

    PS Yes, duck eggs are quite wonderful!

  21. Hi Marketman!
    Sorry i may be out of topic cause i can’t post a comment on your blog regarding nutmeg and mace. Can you please help me to buy fresh fruit nutmeg so that i could also plant in our place? Thank you so much!

  22. That looks tasty. I wonder what adjustments must be made if using fresh salted egg yolks. The curry leaves, are those available anywhere in QC? I’ve seen those in cooking show before but never saw it at a market. Does it have a local name that the vendors might be more familiar with?

  23. We are farmers with 60 curry leave trees located in San Juan Concepcion Tarlac. For the flavor of curry leaves there is no substitute its unique



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