How do you like your eggs in the morning? Or for lunch, or dinner, for that matter.
If I could choose a food a couldn’t live without, it would have to be the humble egg. Yes, I know vegan food may be trending right now but a life without eggs would be misery for me.
Often given a bad rep due to cholesterol content (my pet hate about nutritional info in the media, what to believe?), eggs are actually a wonderful nutitional source, containing every single B vitamin and a complete range of amino acids making a complete protein source. According to research from the British Heart Foundation, one medium egg contains just a third of the daily cholesterol limit; but it is dietary saturated fat, not dietary cholesterol that influences blood cholesterol levels the most. Thank you science!
Now we know they’re good for us, what’s the best way to cook them? And more importantly, how can you achieve that Insta-worthy runny yolk every time? #yolkporn
Here’s my method for the perfectly fried, pert-yolked egg.
- Get the pan hot, and sparingly drizzle some butter/oil (not olive oil- unstable at high temp)
- Once the fat is hot, swirl it around the pan (just to coat)
- Crack the egg/eggs (one handed if you’re showing off) into the pan.
Clever bit: Add about 1 tbsp water to the pan (not on top of the eggs, but on some empty pan space) and cover with a lid/baking tray.
- Turn the heat down a little and let the steam generated cook the top of the egg so you don’t have to worry about flipping it over to cook the top. Less fat is required too!
- After a minute of two, simply remove the lid- careful!– and shimmy your silky perfectly cooked soft-yolked egg onto your toast.
Extra tip: Adding a few drops of vinegar to the soft yolk helps cut through the rich, creamy texture of the egg and brings it to life!
Another fast method for cooking eggs is simply to crack into the pan amongst the meal you’re cooking. Simply make a well with your spoon, drop in the egg and cover the pan to allow the steam to cook the egg through. I like to do this to make a lunch more substantial, for example when cooking some chopped vegetables, beans and tomatoes in a pan with spices like cumin, coriander and chilli.
My method for the perfectly poached egg.
This is one for when you have a big of extra time to hand. There are many custom-made devices to help you achieving a beautifully-formed poachie, but some simple tips and wisdom are all you need!
- Bring a small saucepan of water to the boil. Once it starts boiling, reduce the heat so that you get a light simmer.
- Add one or two tablespoons of vinegar in to the simmering water and stir lightly. The acidity from the vinegar is key to helping the egg coagulate and during cooking.
- Crack one egg in to a small bowl and very gently pour the egg in to the simmering water (or crack it straight in if you’re confident!), leave for few seconds and stir ever so lightly for several stirs. This will gradually coagulate the egg together.
- Turn up the heat very slightly to get it cooking, but not to a rolling boil. About 3-4 minutes gets the perfect yolky egg for me, but experiment with how you like it!
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the egg and and leave to drain on some kitchen paper for a minute or two, allowing the remaining water to run off the egg.
My method for the perfectly boiled egg.
A boiled egg is a simple thing, but such a nourishing and filling addition to a packed lunch, or as a snack with a sprinkle of salt. I prefer mine slightly soft-oozy, mixing the yolk in with the rest of my lunch.
- Get a pan of water boiling (can add some salt to speed up the boiling).
- Carefully add the egg(s) using a spoon, letting them down gently into the pan so they don’t crack. If this happens, add a little vinegar to the water so the egg coagulates.
- Make sure the water gets back to boiling again, and allow the eggs to bump around, cooking in the bubbly water for 3 mins (if you want a soft yolk) or 4-5 mins for a firmer yolk. For a large egg, add an extra minute to the cooking time.
- Drain the water from the pan, replace it with cold tap water to halt the cooking process. To further cool, transfer the eggs into a bowl of cold water, even adding ice to stop further cooking.
- Your eggs should now be cool enough to peel and use!
My method for a perfect ajitsuke tamago egg (Japanese stained egg).
This one required more time, but will turn a humble egg into something full of flavour- perfect for adding to a bowl of hot steaming ramen or serving with rice and curry. There is nothing more satisfying than cutting through the lightly tanned soft egg to reveal a bright orange oozy yolk!
What you need:
- 6 large eggs
- 100mls light soy sauce
- 100ml mirin (Japanese sweetened rice wine)
- 100ml sake (or use cooking wine if you don’t have this)
- 6 tbsp sugar (I sometimes use honey if I don’t have any caster)
What to do:
- Add the marinade ingredients with 100mls water to a pan and gently bring to a simmer, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
Meanwhile, get another pan of water boiling, carefully add the eggs to the pan and boil for exactly six minutes (if using medium- sized eggs, 4-5 minutes should be enough)
Drain the hot water and transfer the eggs to a bowl of iced-cold water.
Carefully peel! The eggs will still be soft and runny inside.
Place the eggs in a small plastic container that will neatly fit the eggs, then pour in the liquid so it covers them. A little tip is to place a small piece of muslin cloth over the eggs- it absorbs some of the liquid to coat the top of the eggs as well as weighing them down in the liquid.
Marinate for at least 12 hours, but ideally one day to allow extra time to soak up the flavour!
- When ready, drain, slice and enjoy.
My method for on-the-go microwave eggs in a cup.
You really have no excuse not to get your protein fix in the morning when all your required is a few minutes, a cup and the magical powers of microwaves. When my brother P moved out from home last year, I had to teach him this. It’s food for the impatient and lazy cook- which is sometimes me too.
- Grab a mug, crack in a couple of eggs and whisk lightly with a fork.
- Add about 1 tbsp water and whisk in as well.
- Pop in the microwave and heat on high for about 30 seconds, then bring out, whisk up and put in again for about 15 seconds.
- Repeat step 2 one or two more times if needed to cook the eggs. It’s better to do smaller intervals and whisk, otherwise the side of the mug becomes too hot and the inside part remains uncooked.
- Once cooked, season with salt and pepper, or some chilli or soy sauce. Easy!
Tips for buying and storing eggs
- Try to buy free-range if possible. It feels better ethically and I think makes for a healthier egg!
- Check out local farmers markets, road side-stalls or ask around for those giving away their own own hen’s eggs. I’ve often been given eggs from colleagues or friends!
- Try other types including large duck eggs (with a bigger, yellow yolk) or little speckled quail’s eggs
- Store eggs at room temperature. They do not have to be kept in the fridge. Yes mum, believe me.
- Always have eggs at room temperature before baking especially. They whisk up to a better volume when used in sponges, giving you more airy and light textures.
- A boiled egg will keep in the fridge for up to a week. So get a ahead and do several at once- breakfasts sorted!
That’s it. Eggs really are all they’re cracked up to be.