I’ve got a new obsession, and it is perfecting the soft-cooked egg. Recipes that are accompanied with pictures of bright sunny yolks beckon me… All varieties of dishes, topped off with soft-cooked eggs. You’ve got your noodle bowls, breakfasts, tagines, etc. They require a knack for timing. Too little time, and you have undercooked eggs with runny whites. Too long, and the yolk will harden. The goal is to get the whites cooked but the silky yolk to spill out golden decadence when you break into it.
This is the number one trick I’ve learned: use the timer. A loud one.
I wasn’t raised with soft-cooked eggs. In fact, I only ate scrambled eggs up until a couple years ago. I was so picky that as a youth, I only ate scrambled eggs prepared by my Tata or Baba! (Much to the irritation of every adult who ever served me eggs.) Though, that is another story. It is only recently I delved into soft-cooked eggs.
I am coming to realize soft-cooked eggs all serve different purposes. Soft-boiled eggs are great, but kind of tricky to get the shell peeled off quickly. So they are best when presentation is important. But for meals where the goal is to smash the egg into the rest of the dish, the poached egg is the better bet. They are quicker to the finish line. Soft-baked eggs are best when you need a little more time to get everything else ready, and they are wonderful for dipping toast (or, ahem, toasted brioche). Same with the sunny-side up egg. You want something pretty on the plate to dip toast in.
Fresh eggs are important, too. Really, nothing beats a farm-fresh eggs. I love when they are all different colors, from different chicken breeds. With a fresh egg, you are going to have a sunnier yolk and a firmer white. Not to mention the shell. I find “cheap” eggs tend to have flimsy shells (which really weirds me out). For me, eggs are one food where I will gladly pony up an extra $1.50 to support hens who are cared for.
Goal: Perfectly shaped egg, runny yolk
Goal: Smooth, coagulated whites (not drifting in the water), runny yolk
Goal: Whites set, runny yolk
Sunny-side Up Eggs
Goal: Whites set, no brown edges, runny yolk
For a thorough guide to the hard-boiled egg, we found a great post from Olivia at MyKingCook.com.