Eggs are a staple in nearly every culture. They are hearty enough to serve as the protein in a main dish, yet versatile enough to use as a supporting ingredient. To demonstrate just how versatile they are, we’re inviting you on a trip around the world to learn about how eggs are used in different dishes throughout the world.
Are you ready? There’s no need to grab your passport, just read below.
1. Japan — Tamago
If you’re a sushi lover, chances are you’ve had tamagoyaki, or tamago. The word tamago translates to, “grilled egg”. Traditional tamago is made by turning the egg while it cooks to create thin, folded layers. Tamago is sweet to the taste because the eggs are combined with rice vinegar and sugar. Soy sauce and sake are sometimes included in the mixture as well.
Tamago is a popular dish in Japan, but also a staple in sushi restaurants all over the world. The ability to make an artful tamago is considered to be one of the hallmarks of a truly great sushi chef.
2. Germany — Quiche
Most people associate quiche with France, and the dish was, indeed, popularized by the French. But quiche was actually invented in German culture. It originally consisted of a crust made of bread dough and a filling consisting of egg, cream custard, and smoked pork. The French later renamed the Lothringen region where it was made, Lorraine. Thus the dish eventually came known as, Quiche Lorraine.
Over the years, changes were made to the traditional recipe. The crust is now made of pastry and quiches these days typically include cheese.
3. Spain — Tortilla De Patatas
Tortilla de patatas is also known as a Spanish omelet. The name is fitting considering the dish is consumed throughout Spain and many proudly consider it to be their national dish. It’s a thick, heavy omelet made of eggs and potatoes. Onions are sometimes added for flavor, although purists will argue that a true tortilla de patatas should not include anything besides the basic ingredients. It can be served hot or cold.
4. Greece — Avgolemono soup
Avgolemono means egg lemon in Greek. And it refers to a dish that can be either used as a sauce or served as a soup.
The true origins of Avgolemono are unknown. Regardless as to where it was invented, Avgolemono is associated primarily with Greek cuisine. The main ingredients are eggs, lemon, and broth. The eggs thicken the dish into a creamy, velvety texture. Meat, vegetables or rice can be added or served on the side.
5. China — Century Egg
Century eggs go by many names. They are also known as Pidan, 1,000-year-old eggs, and black eggs, among other monikers. Whatever you choose to call them, they are a delicacy made by preserving duck, chicken, or quail eggs in clay, salt, quicklime, ash, and rice husks.
Despite what the name of the dish might lead you to believe, century eggs are generally preserved for a period of weeks or months before they are considered ready to be served. During that time the whites darken and take on a gelatinous consistency. The yolks also darken and the texture turns something akin to the texture of a creamy cheese.
Historians estimate that the Chinese have been eating century eggs for more than 500 years, and believe they originated in the Ming Dynasty. Perhaps they did earn that name.
6. Italy — Carbonara
Carbonara is a pasta dish, and although spaghetti is commonly used, it can also be made from linguine, rigatoni and other varieties of pasta. The sauce is made from eggs, a hard cheese such as Reggiano parmesan, pancetta or bacon, and pepper.
The beginnings of the dish are unknown. Beloved for its simplicity as much as its deliciousness, the dish has gone on to be widely served in both homes and Italian restaurants around the world.
7. Philippines — Kwek Kwek
Kwek kwek is a popular Filipino street food. It’s made from a hard-boiled quail egg, sans the shell, dipped into an orange tempura-style batter and deep fried. Kwek kwek can be eaten plain or dipped into vinegar.
Kwek Kwek also has a sister dish, Tokneneng, which uses the same recipe, but opts for the egg of a chicken or duck instead of a quail egg.
There are several origin stories for kwek kwek but most agree the dish likely originated as street food, and it remains a popular staple offered by vendors today
8. India — Egg Curry
Egg curry, or ande ki curry as it is known in India, is similar to other curry dishes you’re likely familiar with. Egg curry starts with a rich, flavorful sauce. Hard-boiled eggs are added to the sauce and simmered. The dish is normally served atop white rice.
The exact origin of egg curry is unknown. There are variations in different regions of India, but no documentation as to which region actually invented the tasty dish. Today, egg curry is popular outside of India as well, and many people turn to it as a comfort food.
9. France — Soufflé
We couldn’t let France take credit for the quiche, but that’s okay. They get credit for the soufflé. The soufflé originated in France sometime in the 18th century. The word translated means, “to puff”. It’s an egg-based dish made of egg yolks and beaten egg whites mixed with flour, butter, and milk.
There are many variations of the soufflé. Perhaps the best known is the cheese soufflé, but it can also be made with meat and vegetables. There are also dessert soufflés, the best known being chocolate.
10. Portugal — Pasteis De Nata
Pasteis de nata is the only food on this list who can claim the honor of being the only food on this list invented by monks. Pasteis de nata are small, egg custard pastries. They were created by the Jeronimos Monastery sometime before the 18th century. In 1837 the monks sold the recipe to a local bakery which is still operating and using the recipe today.
11. USA — Eggs Benedict
The eggs Benedict was created in the USA in the 1800s, although the exact place and inventor of the dish are up for debate. Delmonico’s in Manhattan seems to have the best claim since one of their former chefs was the first to publish a recipe for the dish in 1894.
A classic eggs Benedict consists of an English muffin topped with Canadian bacon or ham, a poached egg, and hollandaise sauce. There are also many variations such as seafood, corned beef, or vegetables in lieu of the ham. Eggs Benedict is a staple on the breakfast menu of nearly every restaurant in the country and many more around the world.
12. North Africa — Shakshuka
Shakshuka comes from an Arabic word. It is a slang word which roughly translates to “a mixture,” it refers to a dish of poached eggs, simmered in a spicy tomato stew. Like many traditional cultural dishes, its exact origins are unknown and there are many variations. Some versions include lamb meat, still, others include feta cheese.
In every version two things are consistent – the poached eggs and the spicy tomato stew they’re simmered in.
If this article made you hungry, you’re not alone. Feel free to invite us over if you’re about to break out some egg for breakfast or dinner. We’ll be right there.