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My favorite restaurant has an appetizer (or banchan) that my friends and I all adore. They're eggs that have been soaked in some kind of soy sauce brine and quartered.

Back when I was just learning how to cook, and regularly made terrible, terrible decisions, I came up with "Osaka eggs," in that restaurant's honor. (I still make terrible decisions, actually, but now with confidence.) My Osaka eggs are boiled for as long as possible in a salty soy sauce broth. Since it takes some time, I usually make a big batch, and occasionally I lose a jar in the back of the fridge, and a month later they've gone lacto on me. Probably safe, but I'm not a fan.

As a result, I've been considering the possibility of canning them. But I don't have a pressure canner. So I looked into hot water bath canning, and... you're only supposed to do that with sugary or acidic preserves. I'm not interested in introducing any more sugar or acid to my eggs.

So, my question comes down to what can I (or must I) do to preserve my Osaka eggs without introducing a bunch of sugar or acid? Use more soy sauce? Could I strain/reduce the braising liquid and have high enough salt content to make the hot water bath safe?

Or, counter-intuitively, should I not heat the soy sauce at all? I know vegetables are preserved, via fermentation, in miso and doenjang. What about soy sauce? Because with the long braising time, my soy sauce brine is pasteurized.... So, could I actually make my eggs last longer by simply leaving the soy sauce uncooked? (And cooking everything else in some lightly salted water, just so we're clear.)

**Here's the basic recipe I multiply for making terrible Osaka eggs so you can see the relative concentration (or lack thereof) of salt.

(...And a warning that you might not want to try these at home, kids. One person thought they were tea eggs, got all excited, and ended up running outside to spit it out. They taste like ...something that should be meat but isn't meat and some people become confused and even distraught by the cognitive dissonance they create. But I love them and want them to last, dang it.)

  • 2 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of soy sauce.I like Lee Kum Kee's double-fermented. Sometimes I'll add some dark soy sauce or mushroom-flavored for part of it.
  • 1/8 cup fish sauce
  • 1 T oyster sauce
  • Some kind of spices: cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, star anise, black pepper, fennel, allspice, cloves, coriander.... Whatever makes you happy.
  • .....
  • A sliced red onion
  • A sliced shallot,
  • Some rough-chopped garlic, you measure with your heart,
  • A hot pepper,
  • 7 or 8 dried anchovies, heads and guts removed.

The first block of ingredients go in a pot, preferably of the crock variety. The other stuff goes in a dry saute pan and are accordingly sauted before being added to the pot. If anything's stuck to the saute pan, splash a little more water in to clean it and add that to the pot. Then add a bunch of boiled and peeled eggs, and let it go however long you want. My friends and I will let them go for a full day or three, and the mushy braised vegetables (and anchovies) are a nice bonus topping for rice.

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    Nicely composed question, sorry I don't have a more helpful answer for you. Also, I have to say this sounds like the sort of thing I'd only eat on a dare. – FuzzyChef Jan 4 at 6:57
  • This is a new food for me, so I looked it up (under ‘soy sauce eggs’). It seems that most recipes cook the eggs for about as long as a normal hard boiled egg. They're also not quite so heavily spiced. Why do you cook them for days? Is it your own attempt at preservation, or does the restaurant use that method, or something else? – RalphMudhouse Jan 4 at 19:38
  • It's just personal preference and my terrible taste lol. I think the restaurant does end up cooking theirs longer, simply because they must make them in bulk and serve from the same batch for hours (pretty sure they just use soy sauce and dashi mostly). I followed a normal recipe to start and just thought they were bland and disappointing. So I increased all the things by way too much and decided I liked them. (I'm also one of those people that will add like 6 Bay leaves to a pot of soup, if that tells you anything.) – kitukwfyer Jan 4 at 21:55
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You could ferment your eggs; salt-pickled fermented eggs are a thing and don't require any higher salt content than you already have. However, there are some potential problems with that.

First, your comment that "a month later they've gone lacto on me. Probably safe, but I'm not a fan" gives the impression that you wouldn't like the result of fermentation. Second, a couple of your ingredients -- the oyster sauce and the anchovies -- are easy-spoiling ingredients that could cause the batch to go off.

Your brine doesn't seem quite high enough in salt for canning them to succeed. You can hot water bath brined eggs, but only if they are brined in a very high salt solution -- the linked post says 25% brine. Heck, with enough salt you can keep eggs for months without canning at all. But that's a lot more salt than you're using.

While you can theoretically pressure-can boiled eggs without salt or acid at all, after an hour of cooking under pressure they would not be edible.

Overall, I don't believe there's any way to preserve them that wouldn't substantially alter their flavor/texture. So ... I'd say make as many as you'll enjoy in a few weeks.

  • Well, I wonder about your first link since using the soy sauce as a starter was one of my thoughts. Soy sauce isn't a straightforward lacto-ferment like Sauerkraut. So if I don't pasteurize it (and do pasteurize everything else, would the eggs have a more complex flavor? I don't want everything to be a lacto-ferment, but there are other kinds lol. – kitukwfyer Jan 4 at 13:51
  • Oh, and that second link also adds a ton of sugar which is why I passed over it. Why would the pressure canned eggs be inedible? All I saw in there was talk about a rubbery texture... I'm not sure my Osaka eggs would be much impacted after three days of boiling. Was there anything else I missed? – kitukwfyer Jan 4 at 13:53
  • Nope, that was it. So if you want to take a shot at it, try doing 10lbs of pressure for 30-40min. See how it turns out. The nice thing about eggs is that if they don't keep, the spoilage isn't subtle. – FuzzyChef Jan 5 at 6:24

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