People who claim that they cannot cook often say “I can’t even boil an egg!” as though that’s the first and most basic thing that anyone who CAN cook can do.
It’s quite bizarre. Boiling an egg to the degree that you would like, is a skill that is also very often hit and miss, even for those who possess it.
There are SO many variables when undertaking this task. The size of egg, the temperature of egg, the temperature on the day, the egg’s freshness, the type of egg, the size of the pot or pan being used to cook the egg, the amount and type of heat being applied to the egg and the list goes on!
A couple of weeks ago in Open Post I hung around to answer any food questions that people wanted to ask and one topic that came up quite a few times there (plus heaps of times in emails, tweets, and messages to me before) was ‘Eggs.’
So below I’ve compiled a little “How To” guide for eggs.
(Let’s just note upfront that like most things, there are many ways to do each of the items on my list. I am simply going to tell you how I, Phoodie, do the following things. I will share with you the methods that have never let me down. The little secrets that I’ve been told along the way. I welcome all the alternatives in the comments below, as I think that will help people who may have tried my methods but had no luck. If such a person is to exist! In summary, there are many, MANY ways to skin a cat or boil an egg as it were.)
1. How to boil an egg.
When boiling eggs you will normally be aiming for one of the following outcomes; soft (runny yolk), medium (yolk starting to set at edges), or hard (a fully set yolk.)
- For all three options you want to start with a small pot filled with cold water from the tap that covers the eggs only by a cm or so.
- Fresh eggs are generally harder to peel so older eggs work better when boiling.
- Turn the stove on to a medium-high heat and bring the water with the eggs inside to the boil. Once the water is boiling (rapid bubbles), turn it down to a simmer (small bubbles.)
- For a soft boiled egg you will want to continue to simmer the eggs for between 1 and 2 minutes (I say ‘between’ because it depends on the size, temperature of the eggs etc.) for a medium boiled egg you will want to simmer for between 2 and 3 minutes and for a hard boiled egg you will want to simmer for between 3 – 4 minutes. (At first, this will be a little bit of trial and error for you. I now know, that when I cook 3 standard sizes eggs taken directly from my fridge, not at room temperature, and cook them on my small burner, they need to simmer for EXACTLY 90 seconds to be perfectly soft boiled.)
- After the eggs are done, run them under a cold tap to stop the cooking process. Serve straight away if it is meant to be soft boiled as even whilst running under cold water they do continue to cook for a bit.
2. How to poach an egg.
Poaching is probably the technique of cooking an egg where the greatest number of different methods exists! Off the top of my head I could probably give you 5 straight away! However, to cause the least confusion, I will just tell you how I do it.
The fresher the egg the better, as when dropped into the water the whites will set faster, causing less floaty bits to lurk around in the aftermath.
- Bring a wide, deep pan / pot of water to the boil. The water should be around 15cm deep. Once boiling turn the heat down to a steady simmer.
- If the eggs are old, it’s a good idea to add in a few tablespoons of white wine vinegar to the water as the acidity helps the eggs coagulate/set (note: some people think that this adds too much of a vinegary taste and use lemon juice instead. If the eggs are fresh, nothing is necessary.)
- Crack each egg you want to poach into a separate small bowl or dish.
- Create a whirlpool in your pot of water with a large wooden spoon.
- Lower the egg gently into the centre of the whirlpool and watch the white wrap neatly around the yolk and start to cook.
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the egg from the water after 2 minutes (soft yolk) or 3 (medium/hard yolk.)
3. How to cook scrambled eggs.
Good scrambled eggs are silky smooth and JUST cooked. Nothing is worse than a dry, clumpy, hard serving of scrambled eggs. They should also be light and fluffy, so whilst you may only eat one boiled egg with your toast, the equivalent in scrambled eggs would definitely be two or three.
- Place all of your eggs into a bowl and whisk together well with a fork. You are wanting to do this for a while as the longer you do it for, the more air you incorporate into the mix and more air equals a higher fluff factor.
- Season well with salt and pepper.
- If you are a chive fan, and possibly even if you are not, add some finely chopped chives to the mix, I think they take this dish to the next level.
- A dash of cream goes a long way in making scrambled eggs silky smooth. I’m talking like a teaspoon of cream per egg. If you don’t want to use cream, a dash of full cream milk also works well.
- Place a pan over medium heat, melt some butter in it, when the pan is hot add in your eggs swirling the pan around a bit. Using a spatula, after about 20 seconds start folding all of the outside eggs into the centre. Repeat until all of the egg appears set.
- Remove from the heat and serve immediately.
4. How to make fried eggs.
I like to see crispy edges on my egg white and a creamy runny yolk in the centre when I fry an egg.
- Place a tablespoon of butter in a fry pan over medium heat. Once the butter has melted and covered the base of the pan, crack an egg into the centre of the pan being careful to keep the yolk in tact.
- Cook for approximately two and a half minutes, or until the white is completely set with crispy golden brown edges.
- Remove carefully and serve sunny side up.
5. How to make an omelette.
Like scrambled eggs, the key here is “just cooked” and “fluffy.” A traditional omelette has 3 eggs, seasoning and nothing else. However, I always add a tablespoon of full cream milk as it ups the fluff factor. I also love the versatility of an omelette. If you like to eat something (mushroom, salmon, feta, spinach, cheese etc.) with eggs then this is the perfect opportunity for you to add it in.
- Crack your eggs into a bowl, add your milk and seasoning and whisk together with a fork. Whisk for as long as you can to add air to the mix.
- Place a pan over high heat and add in a teaspoon or so of butter. You want enough butter so that the entire base of the pan is covered.
- Pour in your egg mixture and make sure that it covers the base of the fry pan.
- Do not stir or mix it at all, simply allow it to cook for a minute or two, until the edges start to dry a little / go crispy.
- At this point flip each side into the centre and remove omelette from pan. The centre of the omelette will cook with the heat from the underside sitting on top of it.
- If you are adding extra ingredients, scatter them over the egg after it has been in the pan for about 20 seconds.
So, there you have my top tips and methods for cooking the 5 most common styles of egg! There are so many more ways to enjoy these little beauties but it’s always a good idea to perfect the basics first!
So, how do you like your eggs? And who’s hungry?