biggest to smallest: ostrich egg, chicken egg, quail egg
As an avowed egg lover, it was inevitable that I would one day come across what is THE mother of all eggs, the ostrich egg. The largest egg in the world, it reaches weights of up to five pounds. (Excellent for doing bicep curls with.) It’s approximately 5-6 inches in diameter and 6-7 inches tall. Its shell is about 1/8th of an inch thick and is tough enough to sustain the weight of a 300-pound ostrich sitting on it.
When I saw ostrich eggs in the chiller at Rustan’s Supermarket, I excitedly scooped one up and held it. I expected it to be heavy (which it was) but what I wasn’t prepared for was the sheer intricacy of its shell, beautiful and porcelain-like. At P685 each, it wasn’t the price that had me worried but how on earth would I open it?
A flurry of text messages I sent and received from my chef-friends yielded a whole host of answers:
“…get a hammer and whack the bejesus out of it.” (No! I want to save the shell for posterity.)
“…cut it horizontally with a sharp knife.” (Yeah right, and watch my knife break.)
And one silly answer: “At P685, open it very carefully. Hahahah!” (Oh yeah, you’re a big help.)
After an evening of research, I decide to open the egg by drilling a hole through it. Giddy with excitement, I tell my sisters about it and am met with dramatic eye-rolls. “Geez Lor, I’ve never heard anyone get so excited about buying an egg before,” one of them comments wryly.
Although made of pure calcium, the shell feels like fine ceramic. Very popular for crafts, the hard shell can be engraved or even painted on. Food wise, a single ostrich egg is equivalent to 24 (2 dozen) chicken eggs. It only takes one ostrich egg to fill up a 12-inch frying pan to the brim. Already, I’m having magnificent visions of a gigantic sunny-side up egg or a whopping plate of scrambled eggs good enough to serve ten people for Sunday brunch.
But first I have to get the egg open.
I’ve always been proud that my Bin is handy with tools — I’ve never had to call a handyman when it comes to getting things fixed around the house. Bright and early on Sunday morning, he comes down to the kitchen armed with his Black & Decker electric drill and his mountain-biking gloves (?). Carefully laying the egg in the middle of a large bowl, he begins to drill, the grating noise piercing the stark silence of a Sunday.
“Papa, it’s so loud!” Boo shrieks, running from the kitchen, her hands covering her ears.
It takes some drilling before we’re even able to pierce the rock-hard exterior. Once a hole has been made, I excitedly grab the egg from my Bin and turn it upside down, shaking it all the while. A few feeble dribbles of egg white come out, but then the flow ceases after a few seconds. “I’ll have to drill a larger or another hole,” Bin surmises.
We end up having to drill three holes all in all before the yolk even begins to show itself, coming out in drips and one big glob. I’m desperate to keep the yolk intact so I suggest banging the poor egg with a hammer. But my Bin talks me out of it saying that an intact shell would allow me more bragging rights. Oh, ha.
When all of the egg is out, it fills up my entire 2-quart mixing bowl. I have what appears to be two enormous yolks and a mass of egg white. Rubbing it gently between my fingers, the white doesn’t feel as slippery as a regular chicken egg does.
Get a pan that’s big enough
Because the egg didn’t come out whole (does it ever, I wonder?) dashed are my hopes of a magnificent sunny-side up. Making the best of what I have, I ladle most of the yolk onto a hot frying pan. Taking about eight minutes to cook on medium-low heat, I garnish the ostrich fried egg with a sprinkling of fine sea salt.
I scramble the remainder of the eggs, although it’s quite pale in color since I’ve robbed it of its yolk(s). Even without the addition of milk or cream, they cook up in about 12 minutes, creamy and smooth, little curds which I top off with salt and some butter. And yes, the largest pan I own, which is a 10-inch nonstick, is filled almost to the brim.
My Bin and I along with Boo, sit down to our Sunday brunch of ostrich egg done two ways ”“ scrambled and sunny-side up, country bread, and a banana-dark chocolate chip baked pancake that I had whipped up earlier.
What does an ostrich egg taste like? Just like your regular chicken egg. But much bigger, of course. Next time I may just try soft-boiling an ostrich egg.