The Tattooed Brebes’ Egg: 101



No, it is not an english word. My Indonesian pals, we all know that, don’t we? Brebes is a regency in the northwestern part of Central Java province in Indonesia. It is well-known for its indigenous product: salted eggs.  Salted eggs from Brebes commonly have a stamp or tattoo-like on their shells as a brand-mark.

The tattooed egg from Brebes, Indonesia

Once, I was a kindergarten student. My teacher asked the class to bring a soil paste on the day after tomorrow. We were going to have a project, she said. Little that I knew it was a charcoal paste. Indonesian call it as “abu gosok”. So right after school, I asked my mom to buy me some.

The project was making salted eggs with damp charcoal paste method like Brebes always does.  How cool was that?? this method is now still used in massive production of salted eggs. The method results in certain characters, especially for the yolk. The yolk will be more hardened and oily than other method (like immersing the egg in brine solution for weeks) would do.

My teacher brought along the duck’s egg that day. Aaaaand the project started.

The idea is to cover the duck’s egg with the damp salted charcoal paste. Too bad, I could not remember the steps I did back on kindergarten, but do not worry. I still am telling you cause informations can be gained from anywhere. Yes, definitely right.

First of all, prepare some good quality eggs and wash them with water. Shoo the wet by wipe them all, carefully…Avoid using the cracked one. You do not want to fail. Yes, no one wants to. The cracked eggs will be easily contaminated, so choose and clean them all wisely.

Enough with the egg, now be focus on the paste. The saline concentration should be high enough to produce a palatable egg. It is not only the taste, but also other characteristics that will be affected: texture, moutful, and color. Some conventional producer will use 1:1 formula for the charcoal paste and salt weight (if you use 1kg of charcoal paste, mix 1kg of salt). Pour some water, mix, knead ’em all!

Time to play with the dough! Err…not so doughy after all, but this part will be fun. So, cover the cleaned egg with the paste. Supposedly, 1-2mm is the ideal thickness for each egg. Do this carefully, my dear, we are almost there.

The covered egg then store for around 10-20 days. Next, the egg is cleaned from the paste. Now, they are ready to be cooked–boiled or steamed, both are resulting in yummy!

Happily tattoo-ing the eggs, te amo!

Afi Wiyono

p.s. Other chance, we should talk about how saline could affect the egg white and yolk. Catch you later.

The Challenge of Collaborating Sugar&Salt

As I told before, I am a Food Science and Technology student in an agricultural university. Food science and technology basically is the main part of food engineering. In Indonesia, there aren’t so much reasons for us enrolling for this class. It is not only because of the preferences of the freshman’s choices but also their parents. For most of us, food science is not an earn-living. That, the mindset itself has done so much about this country’s tangible problem in reference to food security.

Despite the reasons why I chose this as my studies because it had been my dream ever since my cousin enrolled on the same major, my parents and friends’ supports definitely involved. One of my friends, who now continuing her studies on International Relationship major, was really happy when I told her that I got accepted. She then challenged me to make a substitute for one of world’s greatest taste substances. We now call the taste as umami. It is a deliciousness that hardly described.

Umami is genuinely a Japanese word. It is the fifth-taste we can get besides the other four, sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. Maybe we haven’t heard so much about it cause the tongue itself mapped only for the other four tastes. The discovery of umami had been made up since 1902 by a Japanese chemist, Kikunae Ikeda. You can further find about umami here.

If you wonder how it tastes, you can bear in mind tasting parmesan cheese, meat, chicken soup, mushroom, or else the glutamic acid containing foods. Yes, the key to meet the umami is to meet the glutamic acid inside. Glutamic acid can be found in our body already and also a man-made one. A synthetic glutamic acid put on foods called as monosodium glutamate (MSG). MSG not exactly giving you a definite taste which is umami. It works to richer the four taste at one time. I used to think that the MSG itself can be replaced by the ultimate collaboration of sugar and salt, but no, everyone, it just won’t happen. Talking about MSG, I guess you are wondering about its harm now, yes?

Back to the challenge.

The harm of MSG, it is also a thing that brought my friend challenging me. She currently living a vegetarian life. She concerns much about everything enters her mouth. Naively, we do know that MSG brings bad effect to our body. It causes a cramp in your neck and reduces the brain works. At least, it is what we can say when talking about MSG. But still, we add it to our food, the restaurant practices add it to most of the menus, the food industry add it too to the snacks, and so on. It really gives us umami and it makes us consume it even more. That is the power of glutamic acid. Now, do we even really care about the doses of it? How harmful can it be?

My yesterday lectures, which conducted by Mr.Pur drove me to surf it on the web. Mr.Pur said, as scientist (on going) we can’t be just believing what majority said, especially the stuttered said one which no one knows the factual. He said that the usage of MSG is not ‘that’ harm. It is a taste richer just like sugar. Analogically, the sugar (here I mean sucrose) gives us sweetness and MSG gives us umami-ness. There is no exact prohibit number of the usage doses in daily basis. You don’t know how much sugar you should put to be safe. When you make a cup of tea, you’ll add it a tea-spoon or two if you want. But you won’t add it so much till seven tea-spoon cause you know that is beyond sweet and oppositely gives you a bad taste. So sugar has a self-limiting factor mechanism. So does the MSG. You won’t put it so much to make your food umami-ful.

On the other point, due to the food chemicals, everything is a toxic. The concentrate you add is what make a total difference. That’s the point. And Mr.Pur asked us “Have you ever heard about ones who got poisoned by water?” Nah-ah. We should still learn a lot.

So, where does the cramping-neck come from?

It is usually called as Chinese Restaurant Syndrome. I read about the controversy here. I suggest you to read that also. It is not the MSG harmful. So, I’d be making a change on the challenge, I guess.


Te amo,