The latest craze in the Asian snack food market is salted egg fish skin crisps. Whether you call it ‘salted egg chips’ or ‘fish skin chips’ or ‘those strange fish thingies’, salted egg fish skin crisps are exactly that.
Made by deep frying fish skin and coating it with a salted egg seasoning, these chips are taking the Asian snack food market by storm. Two pioneers of the snack are Irvin’s Salted Egg Fish Skin and Golden Duck Salted Egg Fish Skin both of whom launched in 2015.
At the height of the craze, these Singaporean outlets had people queuing up even before the shops were open. Tourists were buying them in bulk to take back to Australia, US and other countries, to share with friends and families there. Fortunately, salted egg fish skin crisps are now available in Australia. At Asian Pantry in Melbourne, we stock both of these salted egg fish skin brands.
Both Golden Duck and Irvin’s are equally popular at our store. The question is, which one is better? We donned our fish skin connoisseur hats to provide you with the answer.
But first, what is salted egg fish skin?
The thought of a chip coated with salted egg may sound strange to you but salted egg is an age-old Asian seasoning or condiment. Typically made from duck eggs, which are richer and creamier than chicken eggs, salted eggs serve as a delicious accompaniment to food. The eggs are not a fancy item or a delicacy. They were simply salted as there was no other way to preserve the eggs during the pre-refrigerator days.
Salted eggs are traditionally eaten with Teo Chew rice porridge as a condiment, stir-fried with vegetables such as bitter gourd, or deep-fried with chicken or crabs. You can also find salted egg in confectionaries such as mooncakes, alongside sweet red bean and lotus paste fillings.
Thanks to innovative entrepreneurs, salted egg fish skin has emerged as a convenient packaged snack. Can you make your own salted egg fish skin snack? Sure. The labour and mess involved however might put some people off. Making salted egg fish skin requires some serious deep frying in hot oil, which is not the easiest thing to do in a home kitchen. The fish skin is then coated in a special salted egg sauce.
Quite often, it’s tricky to get the seasoning right in terms of flavour and texture. More so, if you want something a bit more unusual than plain salted egg. Many salted egg crisps add chilli, garlic, curry leaves and other seasonings to produce more unique flavours. As such, many people opt for a packaged salted egg fish skin snack which they can just rip open and enjoy.
Irvin’s salted egg fish skin
Arguably the instigator of Singapore’s salted egg fish skin craze, Irvin’s salted egg fish skin was born from the salted egg side dishes sold at one of their seafood restaurants in River Valley. Following the dish’s popularity, Irvin decided to turn these dishes into a packaged snack. The result is a thriving snack food enterprise with outlets in Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, Philippines and Taiwan.
Appearance and taste
Irvin’s salted egg fish chip snacks are thin and crispy with a generous layer of salted egg seasoning. You can imagine the chef working away in the kitchen deep frying the fish skin in golden oil and tossing it in a signature salted egg seasoning.
Originating from a seafood restaurant side dish, Irvin’s has managed to retain the old school flavour of a salted egg fish skin snack in the form of this light and delectable crisp. Tossed in an abundance of curry leaves that fill up the pack, Irvin’s take on salted egg chips is spicier than the average salted egg chip. Enjoy the full umami flavour of fish skin and salted egg melting in your mouth.
Irvin’s salted egg fish chips lives up to its tagline of being ‘dangerously addictive’ as after eating one your tastebuds crave for more. Although Irvin’s fish skin chips are deep fried they are not too oily and retain a crisp and light texture. The chips are generously coated with salted egg, resulting in a full flavoured snack.
Golden Duck salted egg fish skin
Golden Duck is an Asian snack food company whose philosophy is turning beloved Asian dishes into snacks. They believe in evoking childhood memories with their offerings, creating snacks such as the Golden Duck Salted Egg Yolk Potato Ridges, the Golden Duck Salted Egg Crab with seaweed tempura and of course the Golden Duck Salted Egg Fish Skin crunchy crisps.
Appearance and taste
Golden Duck’s version of salted egg fish skin is thicker and chunkier than Irvin’s. In a way it is more rustic – softer but also still crispy. In some ways, it feels more filling compared to the refined Irvin chip, delivering more bite. The packaging is quite similar to Irvin’s in terms of design and makes for good gifting to family and friends.
Some egg yolk flavours can be quite smelly and overpowering but Golden Duck has managed to attain the right balance of saltiness, sweetness and fishiness with their salted egg offering. Perfectly balanced, with a delicious creamy taste that hints of coconut milk.
Both brands of salted egg crisps are equally delicious. While Golden Duck is tasty and chunky, our prize pick goes to Irvin, for its light and crispy flavour. We especially like Irvin’s Hot Boom salted egg variant which contains chilli padi for that extra kick. Overall, we give Golden Duck 4 stars and Irvin 4.5 stars. What say you?
Credit: Irvin's Singapore Facebook.