duck eggs and other eggs
A trip to Chinatown today led me to buy some duck eggs (actually, preserved duck eggs).
I absolutely adore these eggs, as I find duck eggs to have slightly more flavor, and upon my roommate's puzzlement, I have a question: Why are duck eggs not more popular in european/american cuisine?
Ducks are getting popular these days, and I assume these ducks also lay eggs, so why do I never see them outside of chinese places?
Which brings me also to the general question: do you have a favorite recipe for either duck, quail, or other non-chicken eggs? My favorite is preserved eggs with cold tofu, but I also like quail eggs a lot, especially in soup because they soak up the flavors more readily. I'm always looking for more ways to expand my repertoir.
Boy, did you ask a loaded question, for me. I just love ducks and duck eggs. I have read many books on ducks and raising them. I asked allot of questions to my duck friends and have even asked some experts on the topic. So, now I answer all those duck and duck egg questions on the web for people wanting to raise ducks and about eating duck eggs.
So, here goes! From what I have read, there was a moment in American poultry history when nationally we were considering what to raise and sell: chicken eggs or duck eggs. The favor fell upon chicken eggs for a number of reasons. First chicken eggs have a very long shelf life, like 3 months. It's true, they can sell chicken eggs at 3 months unrefrigerated and sell them as fresh. That's why fram fresh eggs are best. And you can tell an old egg by how flat it lays in a pan. Chickens are able to be raised in tiny spaces, with very little care or attention. Plus, if chickens get sick as they do in tiny confindments, they can easily feed them antibiotics, and many farmers just feed them a standard chicken feed with antibiotic already mixed in, on a daily basis, just to keep them from getting sick at all (if you know anything about the down falls of antibiotic, then you know this is a bad thing).
Today, much of this is the undoing of chicken eggs. People with allergies (like me) are allergic to chicken eggs, because of the constant feeding of antibiotics to chickens, we have become sensitive to them.
Enter; the humble duck egg. This is where things get interesting. Ducks by nature are so sensitive they will die from all but 2 antibiotics. So they are never given antibiotics (unless to save their life) and I've not heard of anyone being allergic or sensitive to duck eggs. Ducks are usually raised without any chemicals, they are sensitive to them, too. Ducks are famous for their robust health. Other poultry die easily from all kinds of things (parasites, bateria, viruses and infectious diseases), that rarely, if ever, effect ducks.
Ducks need open space. It would be very hard to even raise them in any confindment, they can go blind if they are around ammonia fumes that come from allot of poop. Free-ranged ducks are by far the happiest.
Happy ducks are important. Why, because they lay the best in a calm enviroment. Ducks do not do well with stress. You might find differing reports on the cholesterol in duck eggs, I have. A happy calm free-ranging duck, lays fantastic eggs full of nutrition (compare to chicken eggs): Higher Omega-3, higher Vitamin E and A, lower in cholesterol and balanced in minerals and trace minerals. How do I know? I've read it from different sources and I watch what my ducks eat every day.
One down fall of duck eggs is their shelf life is short. I love them freshly layed. I tell others to keep them 2 to 3 weeks in the fridge. And, after that to smell the outside first, if it has an off smell, or off color, it's bad. If no off smell, crack it open in a little bowl, if the whites are off color or yellow, throw them out. Or, if they have an off smell, they are bad. If they have a clear white and no off oder, then they are good.
People around the world love duck eggs. Now you know why America has been stuck on chicken eggs.
I love duck eggs easy-over or soft boiled. Just love the rich creamy yoke and the fluffy white. I've used them in cakes and breads, I think it makes them rise better and taste richer. I once found a blog on the web where the writer claimed that for years, duck eggs were the secret ingredient in her prize winning bake goods.
I would think what would complicate it further is the tendency of Americans to not want to hurt the cute little duck. The full grown chicken isn't near as adorable. Further we get used to what we get used to. At work, someone brought farm fresh chicken eggs into work and proceeded to scramble eggs for everybody. Unfortunately, these scrambled eggs were a lot more yellow than normal. ! or 2 people wouldn't eat them because of it.
I'm not a huge egg fan (maybe 3-5 meals a month or the occaisional custard) but I am a bird fan, especially Duck.
You inadvertanly hit the nail on the head, Zorgclyde. Duck is getting popular- therefore farmers need to keep more of their eggs to turn into ducks, and not into omlettes!
One of the other sticking points is the lack of infrastructure to support the grading of the eggs. For the most part, American consumers are still a little wary of "exotic" food and prefer to see some familar safeguards.
There was a discussion not long ago here about the shelf-life (and flavor profiles) of refridgerated vs non refridgerated eggs- that's the Asian market Egg question in a nutshell: Most Asian markets (at least the ones here in Chicago) do not refridgerate their duck eggs, but as they are the only source, the eggs have only a limited window of use, further limiting their culinary opportunities.
Just to keep this post valid for the home cooking board:
I love quail eggs cracked over sushi handrolls- the unctious character of the yolk & smooth texture create a savory treat.