For many of us who do not follow a vegan diet, eggs are one of the simplest and yet most versatile ingredient used in many culinary cultures across the world. Whether it is boiled, poached, fried, or marinated, its rich flavour aptly satiates one’s physiological and psychological needs. We all have what we thought the ‘correct’ approach in preparing eggs, many of which were passed down to us from our parents or grandparents, and yet despite a heirloom of instructions on cooking eggs, we also find plenty of instructional videos on Youtube with egg-prep advice that ranges from rather comic to highly scientific.
In the spirit of this month’s theme of taking a step back to the basics, I decide to debunk our grannys’ culinary myths on cooking eggs and try new methods that yield consistent results. So here are the tried and tested methods I have found on the website; the best part of it – these methods are so simple and logical that once you have tried them, these methods stick with you just like riding a bike. It’s time to invite your friends over for a brunch and get cracking!
Egging Conundrum 1: Hard Boil Eggs
The two common challenges in preparing hard boiled eggs are – ensuring the boiled egg has a smooth surface and the egg yolk & white is cooked evenly. Well according to J.Kenji López-Alt, the Managing Culinary Director of Serious Eats, the trick to a smooth cleanly peeled hard boiled egg is is the ‘hot-start’ technique; which is to introduce the refrigerated eggs right into a boiling water or steam-filled pot. The author of the book The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, explained that shocking the eggs prevents coagulation of the egg protein, that causes the cooked egg white to stick to the shell. A disadvantage, J. Kenji Lòpez-Alt opined, is that the method does not ensure a evenly cooked hard boiled egg, one with tender egg white. Thus, he suggests that the egg is cooked in boiling water for about 30 seconds and then the heat is turned down to a simmer at 82-87 degrees celcius. Alternatively you may also try introducing the cold eggs into a steamer. With Kenji Lopez-Alt’s method, setting your timer to 7 minutes (including the 30 seconds in boiling water) will yield a tender egg white with semi-runny yolk, which is perfect for making ajitsuke-tamogo.
Egging Conundrum 2: Scrambled Eggs
Joseph Thomas video explicitly revealed it all. Follow closely his instructions and you will be a scrambled egg expert immediately. In the video, Joseph Thomas used a non-stick skillet to prepare the eggs, I have cooked mine, using his instructions with a iron skillet (de Buyer iron frying pan), and the result is perfect. Up the ante, by serving your scramble egg with a thin fillet of smoked salmon and dill
Egging Conundrum 3: Poached Eggs
This New York Times video mentioned taking a tip from Julia Childs. Whether the method is unadulterated, I am not sure because I admit, I am too lazy to verify from Julia Child’s either cook books (Mastering the Art of French Cooking and Essential Kitchen Wisdom). I have to add that I would use two boiling pots – one for cooking the egg with the shell on, and the other for poaching the egg. I dispensed the commonly offered advice of adding vinegar and the method still works. It is the more elaborate process in preparing poach eggs but it is all worth it. But be forewarned…mastering a perfectly poached egg may eventually lead your ego to attempt the formidable task of whisking hollandaise sauce to complement the poached eggs.
Egging Conundrum 3: Hollandaise Sauce
Preparing Hollandaise sauce is definitely not for those averse to disaster in the kitchen. However, the preparation is not as complicated as one may perceive. Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking offers a very precise but easy to follow method whilst Gordon Ramsey’s recipe on BBC Good Food website likens the process to making ‘sabayon’ (zabaglione cream) which I thought helped me have a clearer picture of the end result that I am trying to achieving amid the whisking.
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