Salted Egg Yolk and Butter Prawns a la Millet

When reader Millet, of Davao, mentioned a really simple sauce of butter and salted egg yolk for crabs a few posts ago, I was instantly intrigued. One of the crew was heading to the markets that morning in Cebu, so I asked him to purchase some crab, but failing that, some nice prawns instead. I knew we had butter and salted red eggs in the pantry, so I was hoping to see what this incredibly unusual pairing of ingredients was about. A little googling yielded this recipe and another two versions described here. I guess there are two versions of this delicacy… a wet one with a sauce of butter, cream/milk, salted egg yolks, onions, ginger, curry leaf, shaoxing rice wine, etc. The sauce is poured over quickly fried crab (or in my experiment, prawns)… and a dry version that looked like battered crab, with presumably the salted egg yolks worked into the batter. I figured we would try the wet version first, but I have to say, we were missing several of the ingredients… :(

First heat up a wok with a copious amount of pork lard, the remains of a recent batch of chicharon. Take two gorgeous kilos of tiger prawns and remove their sharp thing-ey on their heads and their whiskers, and dry them off really well with paper towels. If you want to fuss, you can carefully slice the shells and “de-vein” the shrimp, then toss with lots of cornstarch seasoned with salt and pepper and shake off any excess. Deep fry in batches in hot lard, they will only take a minute or two at most to cook all the way through. Do not overcook or the shrimp flesh will get noticeably tougher.

Transfer the fried prawns onto two serving platters. Remove all but say a tablespoon of lard from the wok or kawali and saute a chopped onion and lots of chopped garlic for about a minute until just softening. Add 500-750 grams of butter, I know, a wicked lot, and you could have used a kilo even if you wanted lots of sauce, and let this melt down…

…then add say 6-7 egg yolks from salted eggs. Here I made a serious error. In a rush, I asked a sous-chef to peel the salted eggs and give me only the yolks, but he left a film of egg white around the yolk. Do NOT include ANY white whatsoever, it changes the mouthfeel and texture of the dish. It doesn’t render it inedible, but I think the sauce would be a notch or two better without any whites whatsoever. I mashed the yolks with a fork, added them to the butter and used a whisk to mix this all up. As Millet said, a rather magical foam rises from the butter and whatever the reaction is between the salted yolk and butter, it certainly seems like a bit of wizard alchemy at work…

I added a dash of Xiaoshing rice wine for flavor, some ground white pepper, and rued that we weren’t more prepared, with a bit of say heavy cream or the critical flavoring agent, curry leaves, but this was just the first attempt. We poured the sauce over the prawns and served them immediately. They were slam dunk delicious!!! So incredibly easy, and yet so distinctly unique. And yes, I can see this working very well with crabs deep fried in lard as well!

A few suggestions if you are going to try this at home. Use crabs rather than prawns if you can. If prawns, de-vein them , for aesthetics and more importantly, so the sauce can permeate the shells. Salt and pepper the cornstarch mixture very generously. You want the prawns to be a little salty and spicy before you add the sauce. Use larger and more flavorful salted DUCK eggs, not chicken eggs. Make double the sauce you think you need… it disappears rather quickly. And if like us, we took the remaining sauce on the bottom of the two serving platters, added some white rice and mixed it all up with little bits of shrimp and shrimp brains — WOW, SARAP TALAGA! And Millet, a new derivative dish is born… “Marketman’s Salted Egg Yolk Crab Fried Rice” — the sauce, rice and already peeled crab meat. Yum, totally decadent and totally delicious. Credit for idea to you, of course. But I wonder if folks would pay the premium price for this at the restaurants. :) Thanks for introducing this dish to me and all of the readers of the blog!


39 Responses

  1. Hi, MM – I salivated just looking at the photos – I can’t wait for the crabs cooked in the sauce. I might try that soon – Sayang, I could have bought some crabs from Flemington markets this morning when we went to buy fruits an vegies, but I only sat on my computer a few minutes ago. Anyway, thank you for giving us a new recipe to try.

  2. Must try! Thanks, Millet, for the inspiration. And thank you MM for the variation (prawns) and the “derivative” (fried rice). =)

  3. hi mm, do you think it would be ok to ask the vendor to devein the shrimps that you bought from them? in the same way that they can scale/clean fish for you? thanks!

  4. loony, I wouldn’t do that… you want to devein just before you cook them… for both freshness and hygiene reasons… However, having said that, some people DO BUY devenied and peeled shrimp at say western fishmongers, so I suppose it’s done…

  5. I would pay the premium price for “Marketman’s Salted Egg Yolk Crab Fried Rice” if it were on the menu at Zubuchon restaurants.

  6. Just finished my lunch! But am hungry, again, for this!!!! The foamy melted butter is so tempting and really looks soooo good!

  7. Hi MM! Yesterday in Antipolo, I was served this very tasty dish of ampalaya with salted eggs! For 2 large ampalayas, they used 7 salted eggs. Just sauté onions, garlic and tomatoes. Add the sliced ampalayas, season with salt and white pepper, add a little chili sauce and then add the cubes salted eggs. The egg yolks will separate from the whites and will give the dish a salty, creamy consistency. It was so good. And in Bistro Filipino in Timog, they serve this local garden salad with salted egg dressing.

  8. Wow! I saw a similar recipe before but was hesitant to try it out. With your feedback, will definitely try it! Thanks MM!

  9. Salted duck eggs are sold raw/uncooked here, so it is really easy to break them open, remove the ‘salt hardened yolk’ and rinse them (the method for mooncake yolks). Fried curry leaves would certainly give it an ‘ooomph’ taste. So lucky here that we have a plant, so I just get a handful when needed. Also try the crispy prawn cereal which uses less butter and no salted yolk, but the same procedure as your recipe above. The cereal is: 6-8 tablespoons of cereal (Nestum), 4 teaspoons of non-dairy creamer (Coffee-mate) and 3 teaspoons of sugar. Mix all together, add salt and pepper. My kids are not too keen on spicy, but hawker stalls add thai chilies with curry leaves.

  10. woohoo, i knew you’d love it, MM! and yes, i think your suggestion of slitting the backs of the shrimp is great – that would ensure that the sauce gets into the nooks and crannies of the shrimp. we’ve been frustrated over the fact that the delicious sauce stays only on the shell, so lately, we’ve resorted to using smaller shrimp – same procedure, but this way, we get to eat the whole thing, shells and all (of course, after removing the “sharp thing-ey on their heads and their whiskers”), and all that saucy goodness.

    .when all the shrimp/crab is gone, we’re always tempted to mop around a large spoonful of rice to mop up the remaining sauce.

    i’ve never tried adding shiao xing or cream..the plain butter/garlic/salted egg combo is super delicious already, the sauce is always not enough no matter how much i make. am thinking of using just the sauce for steamed broccoli or asparagus, instead of hollandaise. hmmm…

    count on MarketMan to take a recipe a notch higher – your “Marketman’s Salted Egg Yolk Crab Fried Rice” sounds absolutely decadent…can’t wait to try it! when will it join the Zubuchon menu? ( ang Lipitor, dali!)

  11. This dish and the salted yolk sauce is a common fare in thai resto, with squid, or fish fillet, or shrimp as the base meat. Here in sg they call it golden prawn, wherein the salted duck yolk is “coated” like a thin batter on prawns, swimming in buttery golden yolk sauce. Yum!

  12. @Millet, nothing as fascinating as the promise of magic and nothing as satisfying as magic fulfilled. It was coup de foudre for me too, if you will excuse my French. Tell us where you encountered it first.

  13. Hi MM! First time to leave a comment. The Salted Egg Yolk and Butter Prawns is one of the few dishes I love to cook. I first saw the recipe on one of the local food magazine, and immediately tried it. The recipe I use is more closer to Millet’s (Salted Egg Yolk, Butter, Garlic) with the Prawns sliced from the back and butterflied. The Prawns are seasoned with salt and pepper, before being fried in butter. I’ve never tried it on crabs, but have substituted Tilapia fillet.

  14. no credits to me, footloose and MM, because i tried it first in HK, i think. it’s a fairly common dish in HK and singapore, i guess, i have never had it in manila, cebu or davao, though, and i wonder why the sauce is not more popular here, given that all the ingredients are available here. my version is probably the “laziest” of all ;-) footloose, hits you like a thunderbolt, indeed!

  15. It’s another dish to experiment on. I have tasted squid rings with salted egg for it’s sauce. It also uses fresh green peppercorns and onion leaves. No butter though.

  16. Hey MM wow! sarap talaga. Its like a last meal. A heart and gout attack waiting to happen.

  17. Oh so that’s how the salted egg sauce is made! I tried a similar dish in Luk Foo in Manila~ Prawns with Salted Egg yolk sauce and it was yummy! Thanks MM for the recipe! I’ll try this when I go to Manila next weekend:-) This would be perfect for a Sunday meal!

  18. It was one of the easiest and most satisfying first tryout recipe ive done in a while. Thank you Millet! I used shell-on deveined prawns and brined it for 2 hours. next time i’ll peel it but leave the head and tail so that the cornstarch adheres to it once fried. maybe use a wet tempura like batter. the curry leaves do make a big difference.

  19. Thanks for the recipe! Mesa at GB5 has Prawns in Egg Yolk Sauce in their menu and it is one of my favorites. :)

  20. MM, this dish is actually quite popular in most Chinese restaurants in Indonesia – a bit expensive but customers (as I remember) didn’t mind paying top rupiah for it! I did and will definitely not mind paying top peso if I find a good version in Manila. I will try the one at Mesa as Yassy suggested…

    Lee, sama naman ako diyan…

  21. I got hungry reading this. But I think I’d go for the drier version, so as not to feel guilty with the butter overload. And I like calorie-shmalorie’s ideas too. Maybe I’ll just invent my own recipe. I think that this would go great beyond seafood too. I don’t know how it’ll taste, but even chicken or pork coated in the sauce would be brilliant I think :)

  22. We ate a similar dish last night at Choi’s Garden in Annapolis St, Greenhills – fried/battered shrimps with salted eggs. Have no idea how it was made but it was really good. The texture of itlog maalat could be tasted in the fresh succulent shrimps.

  23. Thanks for the recipe! I had this version of prawns in Macau, forgot the name of the place but its near the bakery where they sell almond cookies and Portugese egg tarts.

  24. Excited to try this at home! Thanks MM and Millet. It sounds like a Chinese-inspired dish to me. Recently ate at a resto in Kapitolyo that also made good use of salted egg but this time with tomatoes, onions and tinapa flakes on pasta.

  25. I first tried prawns in salted egg sauce years ago in Penang Hill, in Shangri-la Edsa Mall. Then again in Mesa in Greenbelt 5. I’m so happy that my bro-in-law has since learned to make it, and his version is even better because he put MORE salted egg! YUM!

  26. Hi MM, here in KL they also have the salted egg crab/prawn/squid. The ones that I have eaten have some chopped chilies to the sauce. It’s really good and makes you eat more! :)

    Have you cooked the dry butter prawns which has the floss? I like the wet butter sauce sometimes but often I prefer the dry butter prawn since I like to munch on the floss and fried curry leaves.

  27. Thank you for this post – so timely! I first tried fried chicken in a salted egg batter in Zong many many years ago, served on top of kropek… it was (for me) the real sarap-to-the-bones chicken. But just a few weeks ago I tried the crab in salted egg and garlic here in Toronto. Nostril-flaring delight! As inelegant as it possibly was I licked the sauce off the shell of the crab. They do it with lobster too.

  28. Dish looks very appetizing. What about using fish fillets instead of crabs or shrimps? Anyone tried that yet?

  29. Delicious :) They have something very similar on the menu at Peking Garden in Greenbelt 5. It’s a winner!

  30. @tercer, I’ve been using tilapia fillet as substitute for the prawns. Same procedure as with the prawns, the fillet, lightly salted and drizzled with crushed black pepper, then seared in butter in a non-stick pan. Then fry minced garlic in butter until they turn lightly brown, then add the mashed salted egg yolk.

  31. MM, I live in the State of Washington, USA and ran accross Market Manila about a year ago while surfing for pinay recipes and I have tried several with huge success. Friends are always asking what is next and I think this recipe will be it. It is illegal to harvest soft shell crab (Dungeness Crab) here on the West Coast, so have to get them from the East Coast of the US, frozen of course. Does not matter, one problem I have here in purchasing, DUCK EGGS! yep! almost impossible to find so I use chicken eggs to make the salted eggs, although I see no purpose in dyeing them red. I will try this with the chicken eggs or maybe with goose eggs. Thanks for your soooo many fantastic recipes, for a roundeye I’m becoming a fairly decent pinay cook, LOL!

  32. good evening MM. this is a must try for me. @ Firechef we do have the dungeness crab available to cook. It is not crab season yet for the sport fisherman, but we can buy the crabs in the Asian grocery. And for the salted duck eggs, they are available at Seafood City in Tukwila, in the South Gate Shopping Mall. I was just there last Saturday.

  33. Andito ako sa office habang binabasa to. Namalayan ko nalang na napalunok ako ng tumingin sa akin yung katabi ko. Hehe.. I’ll definitely try this!!



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