Duck Eggs Are Not Banned Here… Technically
By Jade Hu - Friday, May 02, 2014
Ever wondered why Penang’s char kway teow is always better than ours, even when they all fry it the same way, with the same seasoning? While we are proud of our hawker centre staple, theirs have an edge – duck eggs. The unmistakably rich aroma and taste of duck egg in a smoky plate of char kway teow make theirs a champ. That golden yolky essence with a rich sensation – is a flavour that has been forgotten here, after duck eggs disappeared from the face of our hawker scene in the 80s. It would just re-revolutionalise a lot of our hawker food if that quacky egg could proliferate our markets again. Well, there just might be a way to get hold of this about impossible to find ingredient here in Singapore again.
It seems that everyone believes that duck eggs are prohibited in Singapore. Koh Chee Keong, a shipyard worker, thought that eggs sold in Singapore need to come from birds confined in cages, but since ducks require a big area to roam around in order to survive, their eggs somehow won’t pass muster here. “It’s banned lah, no need to ask,” said a local egg supplier who has been selling eggs for more than 40 years. He suggested that the apparent ban could be because of the risk of avian flu, and used to know a smuggler who brought them in for a small fee and was eventually arrested for it.
Well, the whole situation’s not all it’s quacked up to be…
To find out, we went to the gatekeeper of food safety in Singapore – Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) and their response was, “Local farmers who wish to set up duck layer farms are required to apply for a licence from AVA and comply with the licensing requirements… Currently, there are no local duck layer farms nor have we received any application for the import of fresh duck eggs to Singapore.”
AVA’s job is to make sure that the poultry coming from farms supplying eggs are not exposed to health risks – which include bird flu. The outright ban of importing duck eggs (plus live poultry, related products and eggs too) applies towards countries affected by bird flu. So, if you somehow can manage to jump through their hoops and get your hands on a licence, you can regard yourself as some angel supplier, but it cannot be imported from that long list of restricted countries.
Mr Tan, a veteran char kway teow hawker from Shun Fa Fried Kway Teow and Prawn Mee at North Bridge Road Food Centre, has been through the duck egg char kway teow era in Singapore. He is doubtful that it will ever be revived again. He said, “Even if duck eggs were to make a comeback here in Singapore, using them would be too cost-prohibitive. It won’t be like the heydays in the 50s and 60s, when char kway teow was mostly done with duck eggs and not chicken eggs.”
Bringing in duck eggs for our personal eating pleasure is also a big no-no under our laws. So if any of us makan aficionados want their duck egg fix and pleasures, it would have to be a little pilgrimage up north for it, for now.