This Salted Egg Carbonara recipe adds a Pinoy spin to a crowd favorite. It’s that familiar creamy taste with a light salted egg undertone you can adjust to intensify.
Taking this mini break from blogging wasn’t part of my plans. It’s just that during the first week of work resumption after our Enhanced Community Quarantine, I was feeling quite off-balance. To my credit, I needed some time to adjust to an unprecedented situation. Oddly enough, even though my workload at my day job is lighter at the moment (not all of our clients are operating yet), I have been feeling more exhausted than ever. It’s a bone-deep, maybe even soul-deep, exhaustion that I seem to have developed following… Everything. So much has happened in a span of mere months it feels like I’m forever suffering from whiplash. It’s put my creative juices on hold it seems.
As if the constant stress and anxiety lurking at the back of the mind caused by the whole COVID-19 situation wasn’t enough, there’s also that other thing where it seems like the world is dead set on going up in flames. It’s like COVID-19 and Chaos formed a band then went on a world tour, and everyone’s trying to get them on stage: The riots in the US, hostile skirmishes between China and India, heightened tensions between the two Koreas, just to name a few. And then we have the mess here in the PH. Some may argue that the world’s been a bad place for a long time, but I personally don’t remember it looking this bleak. I don’t remember feeling this heartsick over any of it. And I especially don’t remember ever feeling this sad, angry, and frustrated on behalf of my own country before.
On June 12, 2020, the Philippines celebrated its 122nd year of Independence, but the meaning of this day has become so muddled it now feels just like a random red date on the calendar. I think the reason why most of us never really “learned” how to properly celebrate Independence Day is because we have very limited exposure to a patriotic environment. We know the idea of patriotism, sure, but we don’t know how to live it. Heck, we don’t even really see it from public figures in positions of power and responsibility.
I know I made a promise to myself not to saddle this blog with personal dramas, but I need to get this off my chest. Growing up, I had such a hard time figuring out what it meant to ‘love thy country’. I don’t know if you can imagine how it feels, but it’s a bit like having no identity to latch on to. I felt like I had nothing I could be proud of, and to tell you frankly, it sucked. Every time I see my foreign friends cheering for their countries with so much enthusiasm, I wonder what it would be like to have that same kind of feeling.
Over the years, the saying, ‘Pilipinas, bakit ang hirap mo mahalin?’ (Philippines, why are you so hard to love?) became something of a common saying among frustrated individuals like myself, and while I understand what they mean by it, I don’t quite agree with the wording of that statement. The Philippines is just a mass of land– pliable, susceptible to manipulation. It never had any say in anything. It simply existed, waiting to be changed, for the worse or for the better. It’s the people with the power to affect these changes who have turned the country an ugly shade of gray.
In my travels, I have come to see how the societies of certain progressive countries is a direct reflection of not just their values, but of the many years of good decision-making by leaders with genuine desires to better the country. Decisions made, most likely, out of a sense of love for country. From there it created a halo effect, leading the people to feel the same way and to act towards the same goals. Whether the Philippines will ever reach this kind of golden age is up for debate, but strangely enough, through this specific dark time, I can feel myself starting to figure out the shape of my patriotism with a sense of urgency.
In recent years I’ve been an enthusiastic supporter of Filipino products, but I feel like I’ve never truly made a huge effort to shine a spotlight on my country before. There’s a glaring lack of Filipino themed posts and recipes on this blog, and I want to rectify that. The most important thing I learned in my journey of getting to know Pinoy brands is that there are so many passionate Filipinos out there working so hard to put this country on the radar under a positive light. So it’s not all gray. It’s not all bad.
At the end of the day, it’s a matter of perspective; of putting more focus and energy on things that I can actually be proud of rather than dwelling on the overwhelmingly bad. There are about a million things in this world that I cannot control, but there is at least one thing that I can, and that is the content of this blog. And even if my blog isn’t some big and popular platform, if I can light a small fire in the hearts of one or two of you reading this right now, well, that counts for something doesn’t it?
So for this renewed mission of mine to express a love for anything local, I would like to start with this Salted Egg Carbonara recipe.
If you’ve never heard of it before, salted duck egg is actually a preserved food that originated from China, but it’s a heavily consumed food item here in the Philippines too. In fact, it can be a dish in itself for some people. Chopped roughly and combined with chunks of fresh tomatoes and a dash of soy sauce or toyo, it’s something that many Pinoys will gladly eat alongside a cup of steaming hot rice. I myself love eating it in this bare-bones way with fried fish, but today I decided to use some of the salted eggs my aunt sent over to make Salted Egg Carbonara.
In the Philippines, salted egg is made by dipping fresh duck eggs into a mixture of clay, table salt, and water. The eggs are then packed away indoors to cure for 12 to 18 days, and dyed red to make them easier to distinguish. (Chicken eggs are more fragile and break more easily when cured, so duck eggs are preferred.)
In comparison to the Chinese version of dried salted eggs (like the ones in the center of mooncakes), the Philippine version is soft and moist. It’s perfect for a lot of applications, even in this East meets West situation. In a Salted Egg Carbonara salted egg bits add a nice, lightly salty and umami undertone to the regular carbonara. We also tried this with a few drops of potent Italian truffle oil and it was absolutely heavenly.
This recipe is actually easy to make. It’s cooked in the exact same procedure as a normal carbonara only you add salted eggs into the mix. You want to cook your “sauce” components at the same time you boil your pasta to al dente following package instructions. Start with the bacon, cooking it in olive oil until almost crispy. You want that bacon fat to seep out and flavor the oil.
For fun, I added in some curry leaves. It made the oil smell amazing and added an extra dimension of flavor, but it’s totally optional. What’s NOT optional is the salted egg, since this is a Salted Egg Carbonara after all. And also the garlic. Sauté everything together until fragrant.
At this point, your pasta should be done. Reserve some of the pasta water in case you need it. Drain the pasta and dump right into the pan with the now-aromatic salted egg mixture. Toss until pasta is fully coated in all that salted egg goodness. Take it off the heat, then in a separate bowl, whisk together your normal eggs and grated parmesan. (I just use the bottled or prepackaged type for this.) Working quickly, pour the egg mixture into your hot pasta and mix immediately. You don’t want the eggs to scramble! What you want is for the eggs and cheese to create a creamy coating for the pasta. If the pasta seems dry after a proper mix, add in some of that reserved pasta water. Sometimes I like to add 1 more egg, already beaten, for extra creaminess.
All that’s left now is to season with pepper. At this point, taste the pasta and adjust the pepper or the salted egg, as desired. I like to serve this with more salted egg on top so I don’t tend to add more into the pasta itself. However, if you have some truffle oil in your disposal, I do recommend adding a few drops. It works so well! I also like my carbonara with a lot of black pepper and some extra parmesan.
I hope you enjoy this fun and easy recipe using the humble salted egg!
Salted Egg Carbonara with Bacon
- Salt, oil, and water, for cooking pasta
- 300 grams spaghetti
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- ½ cup sliced bacon, plus more for topping
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 salted eggs, peeled and finely chopped, plus more for topping*
- Curry leaves, optional
- 2 large eggs, or more as needed
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
- Ground black pepper, to taste
- Toasted bread of choice, to serve
- Add salt and some oil to a pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook noodles according to package directions until al dente. Reserve ½ cup of the pasta water in case needed for the sauce, then drain the pasta.
- While the spaghetti is cooking, heat olive oil in a pan or wok. Add bacon and sauté for 3 minutes, or until bacon has begun to crisp and fat is rendered. Add in garlic and salted eggs, plus the curry leaves if using. Sauté for a few minutes, until fragrant. Add in the cooked pasta, tossing until fully coated. Remove pan from heat.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs and the Parmesan. Pour into the pan with the pasta and immediately mix so the eggs don’t scramble. If the sauce seems too thick, add a tablespoon of the reserved pasta water at a time to get a thinner consistency. If the sauce doesn’t seem creamy enough, beat 1 extra egg in a bowl and pour into the pasta, tossing to coat. The heat of the pasta will cook the eggs, but you don’t want it to scramble.
- Add some freshly cracked pepper on top of the pasta and mix. Divide between serving plates. Sprinkle with more bacon, salted eggs, and Parmesan cheese on top. Serve with more black pepper and toasted bread of choice on the side.
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