Special Report

10 Kinds of Edible Eggs That Don't Come From Chickens

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6. Ostrich
> Weight: 48 ounces
> Calories: 2,000
> Fat: 120 grams
> Protein: 168 grams

Like its cousin the emu (see No. 2), the ostrich is a ratite (a kind of flightless avian). Native to Africa, it is the tallest bird in the world, measuring up to 9 feet in height — almost half of which is neck. Its egg is the largest bird’s egg in the world, though also the smallest in relation to the size of the bird that lays it. As might be expected with an egg this big — the approximate equivalent of 24 chicken eggs — the shell is thick (about the thickness of the side of a teacup) and hard, and thus not easy to crack. The recommended technique is to score a line in the shell with a hacksaw or strong serrated knife, then stick the tip of a chisel or screwdriver in the fissure and tap it with a mallet. To hard-boil an ostrich egg would take about an hour-and-a-half. The flavor of the egg is said to be similar to that of a chicken egg but with a buttery character.

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7. Pheasant
> Weight: 2.8 ounces
> Calories: 135
> Fat: 9.4 grams
> Protein: 11 grams

The pheasant is a popular game bird, hunted in the wild, but it’s also farm-raised, and its eggs are sometimes collected and sold for eating. The pheasant egg, generally brown, beige, or pale green in color, is smaller than a chicken egg but larger than a quail egg. The yolks tend to be comparatively large, deep yellow in color, and rich in flavor. Pheasant eggs can be used like hen eggs, in breakfast dishes and such, but at least one English purveyor suggests treating them like gull eggs — presumably just hard-boiling them and eating them with celery salt).

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8. Quail
> Weight: 0.3 ounce
> Calories: 14
> Fat: 1 gram
> Protein: 1.2 grams

In recent years, eggs in various forms have found their way increasingly onto fine dining menus. While these are often chicken eggs, more and more chefs are also using the richly flavored little ones, about the size of large olives or grape tomatoes, that come from the tasty little birds known as quail. They’re the egg of the moment in restaurants around the world, in fact. Chefs use them for eggs Benedict, wrap them in bacon, add them to Caesar salad. In Japan, they’re incorporated into sushi or grilled on skewers as yakitori. In Spain, they’re marinated in sherry vinegar or pan-fried and served on toasted bread with cured ham as tapas. Though they’re small, they have large yolks and can be used in cooking just like most other eggs — though it takes five or six of them to equal the volume of a single hen’s egg.

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9. Sturgeon
> Weight: 1 ounce (typical serving)
> Calories: 75
> Fat: 5 grams
> Protein: 7 grams

Unlike the other birds’ eggs on this list, sturgeon roe — better know as caviar — are the eggs of a fish and can’t be used like chicken eggs. They’re tiny (BB-size), shell-less, and mostly pearly gray to brown or black in color. They are typically eaten on toast points or tiny pancakes known as blini, sometimes with sour cream and other garnishes. Classic caviar is a pricey delicacy, harvested and processed (with salt and sometimes borax as a preservative) from sturgeon in, most famously, the Caspian Sea in Central Asia, a body of water bordered by Russia, Iran, and three former Soviet republics. The fish live in some nearby lakes and rivers, too. Today, exports of caviar from that region are banned or limited due to overfishing of the sturgeon, but roe from sturgeon and related fish from other parts of the world — including the U.S., China, Spain, Italy, and Germany — is now available, as are the eggs of many other kinds of fish, including flying fish (the tobiko of sushi bars), lumpfish, whitefish, trout, salmon, and tuna.

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10. Turkey
> Weight: 3.5 ounces
> Calories: 171
> Fat: 12 grams
> Protein: 14 grams

There’s no shortage of turkeys in America — the USDA forecasts that some 240 million of the birds will be raised here this year, and turkey is the fourth most popular meat in the country after chicken, beef, and pork — but turkey eggs are rare on our tables. This is partly the turkey’s fault. Because turkeys have a longer life cycle than chickens, they don’t start laying eggs until they’re about 7 months old (chickens begin laying eggs about 2 months earlier), and then they typically lay only a couple of them a week, while hens and ducks lay about one a day. Because turkeys are bigger than chickens, they need more food, too. Therefore, there’s not much impetus for turkey farmers to get into the egg market as they’d rather breed more birds. However, the eggs, about twice the size of chicken eggs, were once popular in English and American cookery (turkey egg omelettes were on the menu at the legendary Delmonico’s in Manhattan in the late 1800s), and like many other eggs that don’t come from hens, they are said to be richer in flavor.

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