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Spotlight: A beginner’s guide to eggs

UPDATED: Wed., Nov. 11, 2020

Eggs have been eaten by humans around the world since prehistory. They are one of the most nutritional and affordable foods available, and their culinary versatility makes them anything from a quick snack to the key ingredient of world-class pastry. Here are the basics you need to know to perfect your home-cooked eggs.

Salt and pepper is the essential egg seasoning. Never add salt into uncooked egg. It will ruin the texture and leach out water. Nobody wants watery eggs. Add the salt once the egg is at least partially cooked. Pepper can be added at any time.

Fried

These are done best in a pan with a non-stick coating, either commercial or made through seasoning. Use a neutral cooking fat or oil, like butter or canola oil. Get the pan hot. Swirl the oil to coat the pan. Crack in the egg. If you have trouble cracking eggs, crack it into a small dish first so you can pick out the shell. The goal is to not break the yolk. Watch the heat so the egg doesn’t get crisp on the bottom before the rest is done cooking. A medium heat is usually best.

Sunny side up is a fried egg with a runny yolk and cooked whites that is not flipped. There’s usually a thicker layer of whites around the yolk. You can use a spatula to pull it away from the yoke to thin it out. Once the bottom firms up a bit, cover the pan with a lid and the steam will cook the top of the yolk.

Over-easy eggs are a slight variation. Once the egg firms up, gently flip it over with a spatula so the yolk doesn’t break. Over-medium has a slightly runny yolk and over-well or over-hard has completely cooked yolk.

A fried scramble is great for breakfast sandwiches. Crack the egg into the pan. Break the yolk and briefly scramble the egg with a spatula or chopsticks. Once it firms, flip it over to continue cooking.

Scrambled

For better body, beat the eggs as they cook. Don’t whisk them before. Cook in a nonstick frying or sauce pan on high heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat occasionally to catch up on stirring the egg for even cooking, then return to high heat. Cook to the desired texture. Some people add in water, milk or cream in the beginning to make the eggs fluffier. You can also stir in a bit of crème fraiche or sour cream at the end to stop the cooking and make the eggs creamier.

Omelets

Whisk the eggs well. Add a splash of water, milk or cream for a fluffy texture. There are many ways to make omelets, but for a quick, buffet-style omelets sauté your chosen ingredients in oil. Once cooked, pour in the egg. Let the egg start to set up on a low heat. Tilt the pan and pull in the cooked edge with the spatula, allowing the uncooked egg to run over and meet the surface of the pan. Do this on several sides so the egg cooks evenly. Once the egg is mostly cooked, you can add additional ingredients like cheese. Fold the omelet over. The remaining uncooked egg will steam itself inside the fold. The outside should be lightly browned but not too crispy.

Boiled

Great for snacks, ramen, chopped for salads and more. For a hard boiled egg, submerge eggs in water in a saucepan. Add a pinch of salt. Bring to a rolling boil, then turn off the heat. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes. Transfer to cool water to stop the cooking. For a soft boiled egg with a creamy yolk, bring water to a rolling boil, then gently place the eggs in with a spoon. Boil for seven minutes, then transfer to cool water.

Poached

Bring water to a simmer and add a splash of white vinegar. Crack the egg into a bowl. Swirl the water with a spatula, then pour in the egg. Cook for two or three minutes. Remove with a slotted utensil. Set them on a paper towel to dry if you plan to eat it on bread.

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