The Fried Orange Eggs That Are A Staple Filipino Street Food

The Philippines has made a name for itself in recent years with ube desserts and lumpia recipes making the global rounds, and one quick stroll around Manila will open your eyes to even more Filipino delights from the street food world. From umami chicken inasal to scrumptious mami soup, there's a lot of tasty dishes to try. Among these, kwek kwek is one of the most unique in the southeast Asian country.

This deep-fried egg dish is eye-catching with its bright orange coloring and a name that purposefully sounds like a bird's chirp. The exact origins are unknown, but some say when a street vendor serving a popular egg dish mistakenly dropped a few of her eggs on the ground, she had to come up with a way to resell the food. As a result, she removed the dirtied shells and rolled the interior in flour and deep fried them. Whether this story is true or not remains to be proven — either way, it's become a savory well-known delicacy.

Ingredients in kwek kwek

This dish is simple and made with just two components: quail eggs and batter. Tiny quail eggs are the choice ingredient for this street snack, as quail is one of the most popular poultry meats to enjoy in the Philippines. You may see versions of this dish that opt to deep fry duck or chicken eggs instead, which are called tokneneng. But the smaller-sized quail eggs make for the perfect bite that will satiate any salty craving.

The batter used in the dish comprises flour, salt, pepper, and some water that creates a sticky coating. The iconic orange coloring comes from annatto powder, which does provide a slightly nutty and peppery flavor. Once deep fried in a neutral cooking oil, the batter crisps up nicely around the egg. However, you don't have to travel to the Phillipines for kwek kwek vendors to try this snack. If you're able to source some quail eggs, they're quite easy to make on your own.

How kwek kwek is made and eaten

The first step in making this deep-fried dish is to hard boil your eggs; this is similar to hard boiling chicken eggs — it just takes less time of up to four minutes. Once you have cooked and peel your eggs, you can optionally coat them in cornstarch to ensure that they stick to the batter effectively. 

The batter then gets mixed together, and the eggs can be fully coated with it. Once you've dipped all your eggs in the batter, they can be deep fried until crispy and golden. Make sure to skewer the eggs if you want an authentic street food feel, but you can also just pile them on a plate and eat them one by one.

To complement the savory and fried flavor, a vinegar-based sauce is usually served alongside the snack. A bit of salt or chili pepper can be added to amp up the spice and umami taste. Or, some people enjoy a sweet and sour sauce made with soy sauce, brown sugar, rice vinegar, and ketchup. Whatever your preference, this scrumptious street food can't be missed from the comfort of your own home.