Why egg yolks are actually a better topping than Parmesan cheese

Some may have thought there couldn't be any more ways to use your leftover egg yolks, but we can officially add another unexpected entry to the egg-hack encyclopedia: cured egg yolks.

For those looking to cut down on dairy, avoid throwing away the leftovers from that egg-white omelet, or simply expand their egg recipe repertoire, curing is a genius idea. As The Splendid Table notes, the process creates a product that can be used as a hard cheese substitute for adding "savory depth and complexity" to dishes like pastas, soups, or salads.

Substituting cured yolks for a sprinkling of cheese can even offer health benefits. Though Parmesan is considered one of the healthier cheese choices available, one yolk from a large egg offers up half the calories of one ounce of Parmesan (55 vs. 110), less fat (4.5 vs. 7 grams), and fewer carbs, while providing minerals like iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc (via Medical News Today and Healthline).

How to cure egg yolks

The Splendid Table asserts that the process of curing egg yolks is a breeze: Simply pack them in a 50-50 mix of salt and sugar, toss in the fridge for a week, rinse them off, and dehydrate them in a low-temperature oven (200 degrees Fahrenheit) for 30 to 40 minutes. The curing process enables osmosis, so the yolks shed nearly half of their water weight to the surrounding sugar-salt mix, creating a drier, firmer version, with concentrated flavor. (For visual learners, this YouTube video shows an overview of the process.)

According to Bon Appétit, yolks can be cured up to one month before using, stored in the fridge in an airtight container. The yolks can be grated or sliced to imbue foods with a "nutty, deeply umami flavor," plus a punch of sunshine-yellow color — and the salt-and-sugar mixture can even be used again for future curing experiments (via The Splendid Table).

As a savvy hard-cheese replacement, cured egg yolks have become a go-to ingredient for chefs nationwide, leading some to dub them "the new Parmesan" (via Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts). They're also arguably more versatile, even appearing atop desserts. Of course, you could just go for the flavor double-whammy by tapping cured egg yolk as a delectable addition alongside your next Parmesan cheese topping — we won't judge.