The humble egg. A refrigerator staple perfect for breakfast, lunch, dinner or snacking. It is surely one of the most versatile ingredients there is. But are you cooking them in the best way? From soft, creamy and scrambled, to oozy, crispy and sunny side up, here are some pro tips to help you enjoy the perfect egg every time. Right, let’s get cracking.
Make sure your stir them. When heat is applied to eggs, they coagulate into curds as they cook. But if you don’t stir them enough, you can end up with an uneven and rubbery mouthful. The best way to avoid this is to mix well, ideally using a whisk, and keep the eggs moving in the pan.
Using too much heat. Scrambled eggs hardly take any time at all, so don’t rush the process. Using a lower heat gives you more control over the eggs’ consistency, and ensures that they won’t dry out. Also bear in mind that the eggs will continue to cook through once they’re removed from the heat. Cook them until they’re just set (they should look wet, but not runny or viscous).
Seasoning too early. As you may know, salt draws out moisture from most things it touches. Be careful not to season your eggs too early or they can become dry.
Cover the skillet. There’s nothing worse than succeeding in cooking a perfectly runny yolk only to end up with slimy, undercooked whites. To avoid this outcome, cover the skillet with a lid. This traps the steam around the egg, which ensures that the top of the whites firm up while the bottom remains crispy.
Heat the pan. The butter in the pan should be bubbly and foamy before you crack the egg into it. If it’s not, your pan isn’t hot enough yet, and your eggs won’t fry evenly.
Use plenty of water. To poach eggs successfully without an egg poaching gadget, make sure you fill the pot with enough water to allow the egg room to float freely, usually about three-inches deep. If you don’t have enough water, the egg may drop to the base of the pan and separate. Having ample water allows the egg to remain suspended and set up as it cooks. Add a splash of vinegar, too. Stir the water into a swirl and drop the egg into the middle.
Gradual heat. The most Googled of all the egg-related questions, hard boiling an egg can be approached in several different ways. It’s suggested to heat them gradually in a saucepan covered by about an inch of cold water. Place the pan over high heat, and let them cook until the water reaches a rolling boil. Remove from the heat, cover the pan, and let the eggs stand for 10 minutes for slightly creamy yolks or 14 minutes for very firm but not overcooked yolks.
Ice bath. By placing the eggs straight into the ice-bath, you stop the cooking process. If you leave them out they will continue to cook and become overly dry, and could develop that grayish ring around the yolk. The shock of the cold water also causes the molecules that make up the egg to condense, which separates the egg membrane from the shell for far easier peeling.
Bonus tip. For an easier method that is practically foolproof, try steaming your eggs in their shells. Fill a large pot with about an inch of water, place a steamer basket inside, cover, and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Place whole eggs in the steamer basket, cover, and let cook for exactly six minutes for soft-boiled or exactly 12 minutes for hard-boiled. Immediately place eggs in an ice bath and allow them to cool for about 20 minutes before peeling.
Soft boiled, aka eggs and soldiers
Six-minute rule. To make a perfect egg that has a dip-friendly yolk and a firm white, add one inch of water to a sauce pot, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add an egg straight from the refrigerator into the pot. Replace the lid and let it continue to boil for exactly six minutes. After six minutes, remove the egg from the pot and place them in a an egg cup.
Bonus tip. Enjoy a soft boiled egg like the British do by cutting your toast into strips about half an inch wide — toast cut this way is known as “soldiers” in the UK. They are the perfect width for marching them up to your egg and dipping into the runny yolk.