Korean mayak eggs are a delicious and super easy Korean side dish. The soy-marinated eggs are stained dark from the soy sauce, with a sweet and savoury flavour and a perfect jammy egg yolk waiting inside.
I never realised boiled eggs could be such a moreish snack until I tried mayak eggs.
These marinated eggs are also perfect for meal prep. Make a batch, refrigerate, and then simply grab a ready-to-use egg for a quick and easy breakfast or snack. They make a great side dish for a Korean-style spread or serve as a simple meal on top of white rice.
Plus, you can use any leftover marinade to add instant flavour to your midweek meals. It’s a win-win.
Why you’ll love mayak eggs
This classic Korean egg dish is a delicious way to add a little something extra to your boiled egg breakfast. Mayak eggs are savoury yet sweet, and super moreish.
If you’re not yet convinced, here are a few reasons why you’ll love this mayak egg recipe:
- It’s great for meal prep: Make a large batch of mayak eggs and enjoy them for breakfast, as ramen eggs, or as a quick snack.
- It’s kid-friendly: Omit the optional spicy peppers to make the sweet and savoury eggs a hit for the whole family.
- It’s super easy to make: Boil the eggs, mix the marinade, and let it do its magic overnight. That’s it!
- It’s very versatile: Enjoy the marinated eggs as a side dish, add them to salads, use them for umami egg sandwiches, add them to a hot bowl of ramen, or simply enjoy them with steamed white rice.
- It’s utterly delicious: The marinade has a great balance of sweet and savoury flavours. And you can even add sliced chilli peppers for a spicy kick. The jammy eggs are soft, umami flavour-packed and have a beautiful soy-stained colour gradient.
What are mayak eggs?
Korean mayak eggs (or mayak gyeran) are boiled eggs marinated in a flavourful soy sauce-based mixture. The marinade often includes soy sauce, water, sugar, and various aromatics such as garlic, green onions, and chilli peppers.
They’re a popular snack or side dish (banchan) in Korean cuisine, known for their savoury, slightly sweet taste and attractive dark colour.
Mayak means illicit in the context of drugs. Which is why they are also called drug eggs. The name is a playful nod to the irresistible and addictive flavour of these marinated eggs, which keep you coming back for more. Something I can certainly confirm.
Korean marinated eggs ingredients and substitutes
This mayak egg recipe is flexible and super easy to make. And if you cook lots of Asian food, you most likely have enough ingredients in the pantry to start your first batch of Korean eggs today.
For the soft-boiled eggs
Use large eggs at room temperature. Fridge-cold eggs may crack when they hit the rapidly boiling water. They also lower the water temperature resulting in runny egg whites.
If you have eggs in the fridge but you’re in a hurry to start your delicious soy-marinated eggs, you can use a bowl of warm water to heat the eggs. Simply place refrigerated eggs in hot tap water for a few minutes to bring them to room temperature quickly.
I prefer jammy eggs (cooked for 6 minutes) for marinating, but you can also use hard-boiled. Use the same method outlined in the mayak egg recipe, but cook the eggs for 10 minutes.
Egg marinade ingredients
- Soy sauce: Use light soy sauce or all-purpose soy sauce for the marinade base. You can also add a tablespoon of dark soy sauce for a deeper colour and stronger flavour. Use tamari or coconut aminos for a gluten-free marinade.
- Toasted sesame oil: It adds a nutty, toasted flavour. If you don’t have any, you can omit it. The oil serves no purpose in the marinade other than flavour.
- Honey: I adore honey. And here it adds a subtle sweetness to counterbalance the saltiness of the soy sauce. You can use your preferred sweetener. Try it with maple syrup, brown rice syrup, corn syrup, or brown sugar instead.
- Sesame seeds: Use normal hulled sesame seeds. You can toast the sesame seeds for a deeper flavour (especially if you omit the toasted sesame oil).
- Garlic: Use fresh garlic cloves for the best flavour.
- Green onions: If you don’t have green onions (scallions) or spring onions, use chives or finely chopped shallots or regular onions.
- Chilli peppers (optional): I like to use two Thai bird’s eye chilli peppers for a fiery kick. But I often make these eggs without the chilli. And instead, I sprinkle the marinated eggs with a pinch of gochugaru (Korean chilli flakes). You can use your preferred fresh chillies or red pepper flakes to match your heat tolerance or omit them altogether.
Store the marinated eggs (removed from the marinade) in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Enjoy the eggs cold, or let them come to room temperature before serving.
How to make Korean mayak eggs
The key to perfect jammy eggs is to use room temperature eggs and cook them for just 6 minutes – this will give you scrumptiously soft-boiled eggs that are perfect for marinating. And be sure to prepare an ice water bath to avoid overcooking the eggs.
Step 1: Boil the eggs
Prepare your ice bath before you cook the eggs. Grab a large bowl that can fit all your eggs. Add a few handfuls of ice cubes with enough water to submerge the boiled eggs.
Take a medium-sized pot big enough to fit the eggs in a single layer. Fill it half full with water and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, stir in the tablespoon of white vinegar and one teaspoon of salt.
Gently place the room-temperature eggs in the boiling water with a slotted spoon. Start a timer once the last egg hits the water and cook for six minutes for jammy eggs (or ten minutes for hard-boiled eggs).
Transfer the eggs to the waiting ice bath and cool down for five minutes.
Gently tap the cooled eggs a few times on a flat surface and softly roll the eggs with the palm of your hand to crack the shell all over. Then peel the eggs, and rinse off any pieces of eggshell. Or use your own trusted egg peeling technique.
Step 2: Make the egg marinade
Add all the ingredients for the soy-based egg marinade in a small bowl:
- half a cup of light soy sauce (or all-purpose soy sauce),
- one tablespoon of dark soy sauce (optional),
- one tablespoon of toasted sesame oil (optional),
- a quarter cup of honey, maple syrup or brown rice syrup,
- one tablespoon of sesame seeds (toasted for extra flavour),
- two minced garlic cloves,
- two thinly sliced green onions,
- and two sliced chilli peppers if you want spicy Korean eggs.
Whisk until the honey is fully incorporated.
Step 3: Marinate the eggs
Place the peeled eggs in a glass bowl or airtight container that fits the eggs snuggly.
Pour the marinade over the peeled eggs. If you don’t have enough marinade to almost cover the eggs, mix in a splash of water. Or turn the eggs a few times with a clean spoon during the marinade process for even coverage.
Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap and let the eggs marinate at room temperature for at least one hour, or preferably, refrigerate overnight.
Step 4: Serve and enjoy
Remove the eggs from the marinade and refrigerate them in a clean airtight container. You can safely keep the eggs in the marinade, but they will become rubbery and overly salty.
They will keep in the fridge for up to four days.
How to serve mayak eggs
Mayak eggs are a classic Korean side dish that is incredibly versatile. Serve them as a snack, for breakfast, in a bowl of hot ramen, or as part of a bigger Korean meal.
Breakfast: For a traditional Korean breakfast, serve these eggs with rice, kimchi, and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil. Or quarter the Korean boiled egg and arrange the segments on a slice of buttered sourdough for an easy indulgent breakfast. I also love to wrap quartered mayak eggs in a nori sheet with kimchi for a quick breakfast (but I’m weird like that).
Noodle bowl: Slice the eggs in half and serve them in a bowl of noodle soup. Or pop them into brothy instant ramen for a quick dinner fix. They are also delicious with spicy Korean noodles (noodles with gochujang sauce). Noodle soup is also delicious topped with crispy green onion salad.
Rice bowl: Top a bowl of steamed white rice with mayak eggs and serve with more Korean side dishes (banchan). Try a spicy Korean cucumber salad, broccoli sesame salad, gamja jorim (soy-braised potatoes), and some kimchi. Top with shredded gim (Korean roasted seaweed) or nori. Or add mayak eggs to Korean fried rice with gochujang and kimchi.
Salad: Slice the eggs into wedges to top a crunchy green salad. Add a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds and a drizzle of leftover egg marinade vinaigrette.
These marinated eggs are a great way to bulk up any meal with an added umami flavour punch.
What about the leftover egg marinade?
Because the sauce contains fresh ingredients, it is best to refrigerate the leftover sauce and use it within four days.
But if you strain out the fresh aromatics (garlic, green onion, and chilli pepper), the sauce will stay fresh longer. Keep the strained sauce for up to two weeks, but allow it to simmer for a few minutes before use to kill off potential bacteria introduced by the fresh ingredients.
So, you can use the leftover sauce uncooked for the first four days (in salad dressing, poke bowls or rice bowls). But beyond four days, you should simmer the strained sauce before use.
You can also freeze the marinade in an ice cube tray for instant pops of flavour.
If you omit all of the fresh aromatics and use a simple soy-based marinade of soy sauce, honey and vinegar, you can reuse the marinade for your next batch of eggs.
But I love the flavour of the fresh aromatics. And there are more than enough ways to use up the leftover soy marinade:
- Use your fresh leftover marinade as a stir-fry sauce for proteins, veggies, noodles and egg-fried rice.
- Add it to braised meats or tofu – mix three tablespoons leftover marinade with two tablespoons gochujang paste and use it for Gochujang tofu (spicy Korean braised tofu).
- Mix it with grated ginger and rice vinegar to turn it into an Asian-style salad dressing (while the sauce is still fresh).
- Or use it as a dipping sauce for dumplings, spring rolls, tempura or even sushi.
Frequently asked questions
Refrigerate mayak eggs removed from their marinade for up to four days. Store them in an airtight container to maintain their flavour and freshness.
Mayak eggs are very versatile. They are a popular side dish with rice and kimchi or add them to noodle dishes, soups, salads, or sandwiches. They also make a delicious snack on their own.
Mayak means illicit in the context of drugs. This is why they are also called drug eggs. The name is a playful nod to the irresistible and addictive flavour of these marinated eggs, which keep you coming back for more.
Korean cuisine features eggs in a variety of ways. Serve hard or soft-boiled eggs, or fried eggs in dishes like bibimbap. Mayak eggs (Korean soy-marinated eggs) are a popular snack or side dish. Gyeranjjim (a steamed egg dish) and gyeran-mari (a rolled omelette) are other popular egg dishes in Korea.
Refrigerate the egg marinade for up to 4 days if it contains fresh aromatics like garlic and spring onions. Store it in a clean, airtight container to prevent contamination and maintain quality. See how to safely extend the storage time.
- 6 large eggs, room temperature*
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon salt
Egg marinade ingredients
- ½ cup soy sauce, light or all-purpose soy sauce (or tamari for a gluten-free marinade)
- 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce (optional)
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (optional)
- ¼ cup honey, maple syrup or brown rice syrup
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
- 2 chilli peppers, sliced (optional)
- Prep your ice bath before you cook the eggs. Grab a large enough bowl to fit all your eggs. Then add a few handfuls of ice cubes with enough cold water to submerge the boiled eggs. Set aside.
- Take a medium-sized pot big enough to fit the eggs in a single layer. Fill it half full with water and bring it to a boil over medium-high heat. Once the water reaches a rolling boil, stir in the vinegar and salt. Then, gently lower the room-temperature eggs into the boiling water with a slotted spoon. Start a timer once the last egg hits the water and cook for 6 minutes*. Transfer the eggs to the waiting ice bath and cool down for 5 minutes.
- Gently tap-tap-tap the cooled eggs on a flat surface and softly roll the eggs with the palm of your hand. Then peel the eggs, and rinse off any pieces of eggshell. Place the eggs in a glass bowl or airtight container that fits the eggs snuggly.
- Whisk together the marinade ingredients in a bowl. Then pour it over the peeled eggs. Cover the container with a lid or plastic wrap. And let the eggs marinate at room temperature for at least 1 hour, or preferably, refrigerate overnight.
- Transfer the eggs to a clean airtight container. They will keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- Fridge-cold eggs may crack when they hit the rapidly boiling water. And they can drastically lower the water temperature resulting in runny egg whites. Place refrigerated eggs in hot tap water for a few minutes to quickly bring them to room temperature.
- Jammy eggs (6-minute eggs) work best for marinating, but you can also use hard-boiled ones. Use the same method, but cook the eggs for 10 minutes.
- Store the marinated eggs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
- See the ingredients and substitutes section for more ingredient information.
- The total recipe time does not include the time to marinate the eggs (which can range from 1 hour to 12 hours).