These aren’t the pickled eggs you fish out of a plastic tub filled with suspiciously neon green liquid at your neighborhood watering hole. By comparison, these cured eggs are the ultimate, upgraded, Michelin-star version—naturally vibrant in color thanks to thinly sliced beets (optional, but highly recommended), they have creamy yolks and an umami-rich flavor provided by rice koji.
Koji is grains of steamed rice that have been inoculated with Aspergillus oryzae. This mold is non-toxic, has an affinity for grains, and has been cultivated for centuries to naturally ferment foods. Aspergillus oryzae causes enzymes—proteases and amylases—to break down the proteins and starches in warm, cooked grains of rice. The rice releases its sugars, which feed the koji culture. At this point, the fermented koji rice is combined with another food to ferment—it’s a key ingredient in soy sauce, an essential part of making miso, and the essence of sake. Rice koji can be further fermented with salt and water to create a creamy condiment that’s an excellent umami addition in [link https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/spicy-miso-sesame-sous-vide-sauce sauces]. Straining creamy koji yields a clear liquid, shio koji, that’s perfect for [link https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/marinade-resource-page marinades] and [link https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/cured-egg-yolks curing egg yolks].
Inspired by those stunning [link https://www.chefsteps.com/activities/cured-egg-yolks koji-cured yolks], we set out to try the whole kit-and-caboodle and make an epic, ultimate cured whole egg. With the addition of the beets, this recipe is also a delightful two-fer—you get pickled beets *and* pickled eggs. If you don’t care for beets, you can easily omit them, but note that your final eggs will be light brown in color.
We peel the hard boiled eggs to speed up the pickling process—as the liquid penetrates the whites, the yolks transform in flavor and texture after just a few days. The longer the eggs pickle, the firmer they’ll get with a more robust texture—some people describe the whites as “cheesy.” You can let the eggs rest for up to 10 days for maximum transformation.