The Chinese language county famed for its double-yolk duck eggs
(CNN) — “Would you want salted duck egg with that?” requested the prepare dinner.
I used to be on a visit to Yangzhou in China’s Jiangsu province and had popped right into a small eatery for a chunk of breakfast, ordering congee and a facet of pickled greens.
Earlier than I may reply, the prepare dinner disappeared into the kitchen, then reemerged holding a grayish-green egg balanced on a plate.
“Certain,” I nodded.
Plain congee, in spite of everything, pairs greatest with bitter or pungent condiments that pack loads of punch. And in my expertise, the sharp taste of salted duck eggs — cured in brine to supply salty whites and wealthy, creamy yolks — could possibly be much more stimulating than a cup of joe.
When the meal arrived, I sliced the egg open, able to spoon out the fatty yolk.
However as the 2 halves of the egg teetered on the plate, I instinctively did a double take. Not one, however two oozy, bright-orange yolks rested of their egg-white cradles.
Amazed, I waved the prepare dinner over to point out him this rarity.
He chuckled, then defined that many of the salted duck eggs of their kitchen contained two yolks. They’d been introduced over from a county located inside Yangzhou, referred to as Gaoyou. There, one thing most locations would take into account a uncommon and random anomaly is in considerable provide.
Salted duck eggs: A gastronomic specialty
The phenomenon of double yolks happens in as much as 10% of the eggs laid by Gaoyou geese.
Courtesy Sharyne Moy Tu
“After we discuss double-yolk eggs, we consider Gaoyou,” says David Yan, a Jiangsu native and Wild China journey information. “This county is very famend for these eggs, and has obtained a status.”
It seems that Gaoyou’s geographic place makes it ripe for the manufacturing of salted duck eggs.
The county is located in a area with plentiful waterways, reminiscent of Gaoyou Lake (the province’s third largest freshwater lake), which for hundreds of years has enabled the native waterfowl business to thrive.
However that is not the one manner wherein the pure atmosphere virtually predestined Gaoyou’s eventual declare to fame. Salt, which is important for curing the duck eggs, is bountiful within the space.
Northern Jiangsu province’s salt marshes, which at the moment are a part of a biosphere reserve the place guests can go birdwatching and climbing, have been as soon as primarily identified for being a significant supply of China’s salt.
“That was the epicenter of the salt business,” explains Miranda Brown, a professor of Chinese language research on the College of Michigan. “You might have the lake for the duck, after which you’ve gotten the salt business actually subsequent door.”
A employee at Jiangsu Gaoyou Duck Co. Ltd makes use of a lightweight to seek for double-yolk eggs.
Li Bo/Xinhua/Sipa USA
Within the metropolis of Yancheng (actually that means “Salt Metropolis”) not removed from Gaoyou, an unlimited community of crisscrossing waterways connects the coastal salt marshes to the Grand Canal, an enormous artifical river that allowed salt producers to make a good-looking revenue promoting to the remainder of the nation.
“Salt retailers have been wealthy and had very advantageous tastes,” says Brown. “They threw lavish banquets that might final all day and pull collectively essentially the most beautiful meals.”
What rich folks ate was typically thought-about a benchmark for what constituted advantageous eating, and writers and poets who rubbed shoulders with the prosperous retailers would pen treatises in regards to the meals.
Within the late 18th century, the Qing-Dynasty scholar and gastronome Yuan Mei wrote in “Recipes from the Backyard of Contentment” (translated in 2017 by Sean J.S. Chen): “Salted eggs from Gaoyou are excellent, with deep reddish yolks loaded with oil.”
Such references helped cement salted duck eggs as a gastronomic specialty of Gaoyou, entwined with the realm’s very identification.
That affiliation continues to run deep right this moment; in keeping with the Chinese language search engine Baidu, choirs in Gaoyou often carry out a folks tune referred to as “数鸭蛋” (Shǔ Yā Dàn, which accurately interprets as “Counting Duck Eggs”) that celebrates the native specialty.
This kind of culinary regionalism was and nonetheless is widespread all through China, with completely different areas changing into related to specific meals merchandise.
In accordance with Brown, the tendency for these correlations stems largely from the nation’s huge measurement and various topography, which “results in completely different culinary potentialities. That turns into a manner that folks begin to establish locations and areas and even folks — by the meals which can be greatest grown in these areas.”
For instance, pu-erh tea from the mountains of southwest China’s Yunnan province is revered throughout China, whereas Inside Mongolia Autonomous Area’s huge pastures, ultimate for sheep herding, produce a lot of the nation’s mutton.
Gaoyou’s waterways are a well-liked vacationer attraction.
Meng Delong/Xinhua/Getty Pictures
In comparable trend, Gaoyou turned acknowledged for environmental situations that favored salted duck eggs.
“Someplace alongside the road, Gaoyou’s duck farmers will need to have realized that it might be even higher for enterprise to breed the geese to supply extra double yolks,” says Meng Wen, the prepare dinner who first launched me to double-yolk salted duck eggs in Yangzhou.
Farmers appreciated that folks thought-about double yolks a logo of fine fortune as a result of they have been so unusual. Furthermore, twice the yolk additionally meant twice the nutrient content material.
To extend the frequency of the double-yolk eggs, breeders artificially choose geese for the genetic anomaly.
Two yolks are higher than one
These days, the phenomenon of double yolks, which might ordinarily make uncommon and random appearances, happens in round 2 to 10% of the eggs laid by Gaoyou geese, in keeping with the 2011 examine.
“They put all of the duck eggs in a room over a lightweight to see whether or not it is a single-yolk one or a double-yolk one, earlier than they really salt the egg,” explains Hu Ruixi, co-founder of meals tour firm Misplaced Plate.
Offered all throughout China these days, Gaoyou’s double-yolk salted duck eggs are labeled as such — and sometimes promote for a number of occasions more cash than their single-yolk counterparts do.
Gaoyou’s double-yolk eggs promote for a number of occasions more cash than their single-yolk counterparts do.
Strolling via the markets and grocery retailers of Yangzhou, I seen that eggs with double the yellow enormously outnumbered the standard selection — so beloved are the oily yolks for his or her lusciousness.
To benefit from my proximity to Gaoyou, I ordered a double-yolk egg every time I dined at a teahouse in Yangzhou. I’d emulate what I noticed different diners doing — stabbing the eggs with a chopstick to permit the greasy yolk to expire.
Most individuals who’ve tried salted duck eggs, myself included, would most likely argue that the yolk is certainly the perfect half, its creamy and wealthy taste superior to that of the a lot brinier whites.
Yan explains that “some folks do not eat that a lot of the egg white half.” Hu, too, says: “I am probably not into the white half. It is actually salty. The yolk is de facto creamy and really clean.”
Nevertheless, I later study that Yuan Mei would have opposed our preferential therapy of the yolk.
In “Recipes from the Backyard of Contentment,” he breaks down what he insists is the right strategy to take pleasure in salted duck eggs: “Place the entire egg on a plate, minimize it in half, and serve the shell, yolk, and whites all collectively. One mustn’t take away the whites and reserve solely the yolk as a result of the flavors can be incomplete.”
I understand that this is smart. In any case, farmers wouldn’t have gone to the difficulty of breeding double-yolk eggs if serving two yolks by themselves on a plate would have been ample.
Within the case of those eggs, the entire is bigger than the sum of its elements — however for salted egg lovers, it does not harm to have further of the perfect half.
High picture: Geese swim within the water at a breeding base in Gaoyou, China. (Costfoto/Barcroft Media/Getty Pictures)