I could be vegan, if I didn’t know how to make proper eggs.
The truth is, eggs are far more interesting than the most ripe-but-firm avocado, the most perfectly-round head of cauliflower, and a low-sodium can of chickpeas (including the aquafaba). No PETA, I don’t see anything wrong with eating eggs when they come from a farm where I can run around along with the chickens. Heck, they live an even more stress-free life than I do.
And then of course there eggsists the millions of ways eggs can be incorporated into a dish, or pun while I’m at it. But let’s just focus on the eggs for now.
Due to the unique properties of the yolk and the white, an egg can be manipulated to fall anywhere on a continuous and mind-blowingly wide spectrum of textures and even flavours. Take a look at the list below, which are the ways I constantly revisit as well as how I like to use them, though each is delicious already in their own right without any gussying-up.
- hard boiled – in dilly, potato salads that have lots of grainy mustard, or with poached salmon and aioli.
- medium boiled – on its own with the crunch of a nice dipping salt. Don’t mess with my fudgy yolk.
- soft boiled – with blanched asparagus and gribiche
- soft poached – to complete an “avo-and-poached” on sourdough with thyme and extra virgin.
- hard poached – this one’s odd, but delicious in hotpot. Crack the eggs straight into the broth once you’ve passed all the meat and vegetables through. The loose proteins in the egg will grab onto the flavourful floaty bits in the broth and become coated in the savoury layer of fat sitting near the top.
- creamy scrambled – with butter and creme fraiche to go with toasted brioche and garlicky sauteed mushrooms.
- fluffy scrambled – with a handful of very thinly sliced chives mixed in to go with congee or be stuffed in a flaky scallion pancake.
- french omelette – aux fines herbes et au chevre, with arugula salad dressed with lemon and evoo.
- souffle omelette – with brandied apple compote and mascarpone tucked inside.
- american omelette – loaded with mushrooms and white cheddar, bacon and home fries on the side. And ketchup – lots of ketchup.
- thai crepe – stuffed with peanut sesame slaw, topped with crushed peanuts and sriracha.
- broken-yolk fried – stuffed in a chinese mantou, with sticky soy glaze and pork floss and a few sweet and garlicky pickled radishes.
- well-done – in a sandwich, with fat kid white bread, grape jelly, and a slice of Kraft Singles, semi-melted from the warmth of the egg.
- over easy – on its own, but fried in a month’s worth of sesame oil with mandolinned ginger that turns into chips as you fry.
- sunnyside amber-n’-crispy – on toast that’s been graced with a thick slick of miso honey butter, and topped with togarashi shichimi.
- steamed – chawan mushi style with a few flaked lumps of blue crab sitting on top.
- onsen – or sous-vide these techy days. Alone, chilled, drizzled with tsuyu and garnished with fresh grated daikon and shredded nori. Mind you, once you cross into sous-vide territory, a whole new universe of tender eggy textures will bow down to you.
- cured – parmesan made of just egg yolks and salt. Make it snow – yellow snow – on that carbonara.
- century – sliced up, with chilled silken tofu, very thinly sliced scallions, bonito flakes, and sticky soy glaze.
- brined – shell on, in shaoxing and a ton of salt – the salted duck eggs yolks you find in moon cakes all the time? Well the eggs are totally delicious too, half an egg will get you through a bowl of pearly steamed no problem.
- cracked – straight into a bubbling shakshuka or blistering pizza, when you absolutely don’t want to cook your eggs in a pan and want to cook them in food instead.
Microwaving didn’t make the cut. There’s not a single respectable thing a microwave can do to an egg that a pan and some oil, butter, water, or cream can’t.
So there, with a few flopped attempts and some broken yolks, you could easily get through two dozen eggs no problem. Plus, an omelette for one usually annihilates three. Unless you’re a legit kitchen nerd (I’m not quite there yet…right?) I would steer away from 18, 19, and 20. Leave those to the pros.
But there are three you absolutely must know how to do if your mother no longer makes you breakfast (or lunch, or dinner): poached, fried, and omelette. Friends over for brunch? Soft poach half a dozen in a pan and throw an avotoast DIY. Alone for dinner? Fry up a sunnyside amber-n’-crispy to go with roasted brussels sprouts and pancetta. As for a french omelette, make it only if you love the person you’re feeding very, very much. Like your mom – she made you omelettes didn’t she? (But I bet you never when you neglected the sanitation of your room!).
hear the instruction of thy father,
and forsake not
the law of thy mother:
For they shall be an ornament of grace
unto thy head, and chains
about thy neck.
Poached Egg with Arugula, Avocado, Pink Grapefruit, and Fennel
- 1 large farm fresh egg
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- juice of a quarter of a lemon
- sea salt to taste
- 1 cup baby arugula or half and half arugula and mint
- 1/2 avocado, thinly sliced
- 1 pink grapefruit, pith removed, sliced
- fennel fronds, for garnish
- Fill a non-stick pan with 1 inch of water and heat until the steam begins to creep from the surface and tiny bubbles are forming in the bottom.
- Crack the egg into a sieve and let the loose white drip away. Carefully slide the egg into the water and turn off the heat.
- Let the egg sit undisturbed for 3-4 minutes, or until the whites around the yolk are just set. Carefully lift the egg out and lower into an ice bath.
- For the arugula salad, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, and sea salt. Toss with the arugula and plate up. Garnishing with the avocado and grapefruit slices, then a few fennel fronds.
- I also topped mine with a bit of black truffle kelp caviar, but a bit of black pepper should do just fine.
Crispy Fried Egg on Toast with Bacon Marmalade and Gruyere
- 1 large egg
- 2 tbsp, or a good glug of vegetable oil, like avocado or olive
- 1 slice white bread, toasted
- 1 tbsp bacon marmalade
- 1 tbsp finely shredded gruyere
- salt and pepper, to taste
- Heat a seasoned cast iron skillet until starting to smoke.
- Crack the egg into a small bowl.
- Add the oil to the pan and swirl it around to fully coat the bottom.
- Gently pour in the egg from as close to the pan as possible – the egg should sizzle, puff, and bubble as soon as it hits the pan.
- Turn off the heat and cover the pan. Let the egg cook in this state for about 3 minutes, or until the whites around the yolk are set and the edges are shatteringly crispy.
- Meanwhile, smear the marmalade over your toast. Slide the egg on, and finish with the gruyere, salt, and pepper.
French Omelette of Lovage, Mint, Tarragon, and Thyme with Chevre
- 2 or 3 large farm fresh eggs
- 5 or 8 grinds of sea salt, depending on how many eggs you use
- 2 or 3 tbsp butter, depending on number of eggs
- freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 or 1 1/2 tbsp finely chopped fresh soft herbs – I used mint, lovagem tarragon, and baby thyme
- 2 or 3 tbsp crumbled soft goat cheese, depending on number of eggs
- In a small non-stick skillet (6-8 inches), melt half the butter over low heat.
- In a bowl, beat together the eggs and salt until no lumps of white remain. Allow this mixture to sit as you mince the herbs and crumble the goat cheese.
- Once the butter is melted, tip in the eggs. You should not hear any sizzling – it should not even look like it’s cooking at all.
- Begin stirring the eggs non-stop, keeping the heat low. After 3 or 4 minutes, the mixture should start to curdle in places. Keep stirring until the mixture no longer spreads out easily. Tap the pan and use your spatula to get it to cover the entire base of the pan.
- Sprinkle the pepper, herbs, and goat cheese in a line down the center of the pan.
- Gently tease the edges away from the pan and fold one untopped third over the filling.
- Add the remainig butter to the vacant space you’ve just created and tilt the pan the other way to let the butter flow towards the omelette.
- Fold the other third over the omelette and press gently to seal it.
- Carefully slide the omelette onto a plate and brush with the remaining butter in the pan. Serve immediately, with a barely dressed arugula salad.
In the comments below, tell me: What’s your favourite way to eat eggs?