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What Is a Soy Egg?

By Rachael Cullins
Updated May 16, 2024
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A soy egg is a Chinese side dish or snack. They are usually made by soaking a hard-boiled egg in soy sauce. Sugar or other spices or seasonings may be added to the soy egg marinade, depending on personal preference. The eggs can be eaten as a side dish or a stand-alone meal.

This dish was popularized in the Wuhan region of China. Wuhan is the largest city in central China, home to more than six million people. During the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s, food was heavily rationed and many people died of starvation. People developed new and innovative ways of eating eggs.

There are many variations on soy eggs. The simplest version tops a hard-boiled egg with soy sauce. Another easy option is to let a hard-boiled egg soak for approximately one hour in a mixture of soy sauce, water, and sugar or just in soy sauce alone. The salty taste of the soy sauce mixes with the flavor of the egg. The egg is often then sliced and topped with salt, pepper, onions, or any other combination of herbs and spices.

The sauce mixture in which the soy eggs are soaked is one of the most variable elements of the dish. Some prefer to add rice wine, sherry, or sake to augment the flavor of the soy sauce. Ginger root is also a popular addition to the egg-soaking process, although the root pieces are often removed after the egg soaks and not eaten. For a spicier dish, the final product can be topped with chili-garlic sauce.

Preparing a soy egg is a relatively simple process. The number of desired eggs are hard-boiled in simmering water for approximately 12 minutes. The eggs are then peeled and soaked in soy sauce or a mixture of soy sauce and other desired seasonings for at least an hour. The eggs can be marinated either in the freezer or boiled in the soy sauce mixture for approximately 25 minutes.

A soy egg is also a popular addition to traditional congee. A congee is a soft rice dish served in many Asian countries, including Japan, China, Indonesia and Thailand, among others. The rice is cooked to an oatmeal-like consistency and has numerous variations and additions. Soy eggs are added to a congee for flavor. Depending on the country in which it is served, congee can be eaten as breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

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