Asia's salted egg yolk craze
There’s a new food craze sweeping Singapore’s foodservice scene - and beyond: salted egg yolk.
Made by soaking eggs for a few weeks in alcohol and coating them with a salty paste, then cooking until hard, the process imparts a rich, eggy flavour and sandy texture that consumers just can’t get enough of.
The craze was first spotted in the Dim Sum restaurants of Hong Kong, used as a filling for ‘liu sha bao’, literally translated as “golden sand bun”, a steamed bun filled with molten custard made from butter, condensed milk and salted egg yolk.
This sweet and salty flavour then started to be incorporated in croissant fillings by the European bakery chain Urban Bakery in Hong Kong, before making its way to Singapore via Malaysia.
The salted egg yolk croissant was first introduced to Singaporean consumers by Flavour Flings, a neighbourhood café, in January 2016. Within 30 minutes of being launched, the croissants were sold out and as a result of high demand, customers are only allowed to purchase up to two croissants at a time.
Since then, many cafés and bakeries have added their own versions to their menus.
So versatile has the flavour become that it has been adopted in many variations across the foodservice channel, ranging from traditional Chinese seafood dishes to chips, pasta, ice cream, macarons and even cocktails.
The popularity of this trend has even extended to the likes of McDonald’s with its salted egg yolk chicken burger.
Salted egg yolks can crack open opportunities for packaged goods
It is widely accepted that many successful flavour trends have started within the foodservice channel and have then been adapted for retail.
An example of this is the spread of the Thai-inspired sriracha sauce, which was manufactured for Asian immigrants in the US in the 1980s, then rose to mainstream popularity in the late 2000s as word got out of its exceptional taste.
Whilst the condiment started as a “secret” ingredient in restaurants, it migrated into the retail environment where it was only available as a table sauce. Due to its popularity and increased consumer interest in spicier foods, the flavour then started to move into a number of categories, ranging from snacks to main dishes.
The biggest testament to this rise in popularity is that the flavour was a finalist in the crowdsourced “Do us a Flavour” contest run by Frito-Lays.
Salted egg yolk, like sriracha, has grown in popularity because of its taste profile and has already started appearing in a number of categories like bakery, desserts and even alcoholic drinks.
This could lead to it becoming a popular crisp flavour, as well. Indeed, some local Singaporean brands, including The Golden Duck and Irvins, are already tapping into this trend, with their own versions of salted egg yolk crisps, highlighting the potential for this flavour trend to migrate into the realm of packaged goods.
Taste, novelty and culinary tourism key to success
The success of salted egg yolk can be attributed to a variety of factors, the most important of which is its sweet and salty flavour. Its novelty factor is also important, particularly when it is served piping hot with the golden egg yolk filling oozing out the centre.
As discussed in two of Mintel’s 2016 Global Food and Drink Trends, Eat with Your Eyes and Good Enough to Tweet, in Singapore, the visual appeal of food and drink has become more popular, with consumers snapping photos of their food and sharing them on social media.
In addition, there has also been a rising trend of culinary tourism among travellers who are looking to experience various cuisines and cultures while on holiday. Indeed, destinations like Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong are top of mind when they think of culinary delights.
Over the past year there has also been an increase in the amount of popular food and beverage concepts from these countries opening up in Singapore.
Examples include Hong Kong’s iconic Honolulu Café, famous for its egg tarts; Japan’s popular cheese tart shop Bake opening its first outlet; and, Taiwan’s Dazzling café famous for its honey toast. These new outlets suggest how influential these countries’ food and drink developments are on Singaporean consumers.