Umami 5-Spice Eggs


I had a vision to make black colored pickled eggs using Chinese black vinegar, soy sauce, and molasses. I was taking my lead from balsamic vinegar pickled eggs which do in fact yield beautiful black eggs after a few weeks. And although this particular concoction only produced brown eggs, they were nonetheless beautiful and, most importantly, absolutely delicious.

It may be my addition of water to the brine was to blame for failure to achieve the black color I hoped for but the brine intensity seemed to be too strong without cutting it. I’d like to experiment more but honestly these are so delicious that I knew I had to share the recipe as is right away. These are some of my favorite preserved eggs yet and in spite of the color that didn’t quite meet my aim, the flavor is unforgettable.

You may opt to soft boil them (for about six minutes and then into an ice-water bowl) to make Ramen eggs, or hard boil them to snack on, serve with rice, or for many other applications.

With no further ado, here’s my recipe

Yield: 8 eggs

Shelf life: 1 month (soft boiled) to 2 months (hard boiled), keep refrigerated


  • Quart mason jar (for storage), or half gallon jar to double recipe
  • Medium saucepan or any rapid egg boiler of choice, for eggs
  • Small saucepan (or use the medium one above), for the brine
  • Bowl of ice-water (especially for soft-boiled eggs)
  • Measuring cups & spoons
  • Knife & cutting board


  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 cup Chinese black vinegar
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (preferably dark brown), packed
  • 2 TBSP molasses
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp Chinese 5-spice
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, quartered
  • 1/4 medium onion, sliced
  • Optional: 1/4 tsp black pepper (or to taste)
  • Optional: 1 Thai chili, sliced (or any pepper of choice)
  • Optional: Several slices of ginger


1.) Boil eggs hard or soft according to preference. Transfer soft boiled eggs to bowl of ice-water. Can do with hard boiled eggs as well or allow to come to room temperature on their own.

2.) In the saucepan, combine the black vinegar, soy sauce, water, sugar, salt, molasses, and 5-spice powder (and optional black pepper and ginger). Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce to simmer for 3 minutes, covered.

3.) Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature. If desired, can place brine in refrigerator and/or allow it to sit for a day. Keep eggs in their peel and refrigerated during this time.

4.) When ready to pour the brine over the eggs, place the peeled eggs in the quart mason jar, along with the onion, garlic, and chili pepper(s). Pour the cold or room temperature brine over the eggs. There may be excess brine which may be discarded or used for another purpose (such as in a marinade). Seal jar tightly, place in the refrigerator, and allow to pickle for at least two weeks.

Serve with a some of the onions, garlic and brine. Enjoy!

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