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Recipe File: Soft Boiled Eggs
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Cooking For Engineers



Joined: 10 May 2005
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 1:34 am    Post subject: Recipe File: Soft Boiled Eggs Reply with quote

My favorite way of preparing eggs is to fry them over medium. But sometimes, I like to switch it up a bit and boiling them in their shell until soft is my favorite way to do that. It's faster than boiling them hard, and (since I don't much like solid yolks) it's tastier. Here's how I do it.

This recipe assumes the eggs have been refrigerated and have just been removed from the refrigerator before beginning.

Boiling eggs in the shell pretty much starts the same way - by bringing water to a boil. The amount of water is variable depending on the size of pot and the number of eggs being boiled. An easy way to determine how much water is needed is by placing the eggs into the pot selected and pouring water in until there is at least 1 inch (more than 2 cm) of water covering the eggs.

You really need only about 1/2-in. (more than a cm) of water above the eggs for this to work well, but I find that some amount of water will escape as vapor while it is boiling and waiting for eggs to be deposited. Depending on how often you check on the pot, water loss can be substantial, so try to make sure you have at least an inch of water over the eggs before you start.

Remove the eggs from the water and place the pot (with its lid on) onto the burner on medium-high to bring to a boil. The water is ready once it reaches a rolling boil (large bubbles rising cause the surface of the water to tumble and roll).


In the original article I wrote, the eggs were placed into the water and boiled for 5 minutes before being shocked in ice water. After more testing with another couple dozen eggs, I'm now advocating the following method:

Once the water is boiling, place refrigerated large eggs into the boiling water, cover, and remove the pot from the heat. Allow the eggs to steep in the nearly boiling water for seven minutes.

As soon as seven minutes are up, remove the eggs and place into an ice water bath. This will chill the exterior of the egg serving two purposes. When rapidly cooked, eggs, like most dense foods, do not heat evenly. The outside portions of the egg (the egg whites) are much hotter than the interior (the egg yolk). By shocking the shell with ice water, we lower the temperature of the egg whites to a temperature below that of the egg yolk and this causes the egg yolk to stop cooking. Otherwise, the yolk would continue to draw heat from the whites and raise its temperature while the egg white temperature lowered resulting in overcooked egg yolks.

The other reason for shocking the eggs is that it causes a little bit of shrinkage in the egg, hopefully making it easier to peel.


After about 1 minute, peel the eggs. I find it easiest to do this by tapping the egg lightly (just enough to crack the shell) all over starting with the fat end (I start here because there's an air pocket and I feel more comfortable using a little more force to break the shell without damaging the egg). I then run a thin stream of cold water to help pull away the shell and membrane as I carefully peel the egg. Be careful, it's not as hardy as a hard boiled egg due to the liquid core.


If the soft boiled eggs are too cold after you're done peeling them, you can submerge then into the cooking liquid (which should be just around simmering at this point in time) to reheat. About two to three minutes will bring it back up to temperature.


Served with a light sprinkling of kosher salt, a soft boiled egg makes a great addition to breakfast or a pleasant surprise accompanying your dinner entree.


If this is your first time using this recipe, I suggest cooking one or two eggs with this method first. Breaking into the egg, you should find the whites almost fully cooked (solid) with the yellow yolk thickened and viscous.

Note: For individuals with a poor immune system, the young, or the elderly, it is not advisable to consume soft boiled eggs or undercooked yolks.

Soft Boiled Eggs
whole large eggssteep in covered pot of just boiled water for 7 minutesshock in ice waterpeel
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Marcin



Joined: 21 Aug 2008
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 4:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's interesting, my cooking method for soft boiled eggs is, after adding eggs to boiling water: boil for 1 minute, take off the heat and cover pan for 4 minutes. The rest of the "recipe" is the same, except I usually serve them in the shell in an egg cup, not peeled.

I would have thought that 5 minutes at a boil would mean they were overcooked.

Might have to try it some time for comparison!
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 7:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
An easy way to determine how much water is needed is by placing the eggs into the pot selected and pouring water in until there is at least 1 inch (more than 2 cm) of water covering the eggs. . . Remove the eggs from the water and place the pot (with its lid on) onto the burner on medium-high to bring to a boil.


Are you kidding me? Such a waste of effort, just guess about the water height, but most importantly you DO NOT need at least an inch of water above the eggs. I just made some perfect hard boiled eggs tonight with water that didn't even quite cover the eggs. I make soft-boiled eggs all the time the same way.

The only reason I can think of for putting a lot of water, is the same reason you want a lot of water when boiling pasta: so that the water doesn't cool down a lot when you add the room temperature/fridge temperature eggs/pasta to the water. But if you're doing one egg, having extra water in the pot won't make a huge difference. Secondly, if you have less water, even though the water may cool down a bit, it will heat up fast anyways when you are doing the keep-the-pot-on-the-element method.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 7:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am also a bit surprised that they the yolks are not solid after 5 minutes. I usually go for 4 and any longer makes the yolks solid. Probably depends on the size of the eggs. Are you using small eggs?
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Kitt
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 7:58 am    Post subject: Handy instructions! Reply with quote

I love a nice soft-boiled egg, but usually end up scrambling instead because I can never seem to get the boiling right. I guess the ice bath is the key! Thanks much. I'll try this tomorrow.

Kitt
http://www.kittalog.com
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Lintballoon



Joined: 08 Oct 2006
Posts: 42
Location: Massachusetts

PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 11:07 pm    Post subject: Tea Eggs Reply with quote

First of all, nice to have you back, Michael, it's been awhile since I've seen a post from you and I've missed it!
This is kind of straying from topic, but I tried making tea eggs recently and I really like them.
These eggs are hard boiled all the way, then the shell is cracked but not peeled. Then you steep the eggs in tea in the fridge for a day or too. If you do it right, the egg gets a pretty cracked shell pattern, and the tea gives the egg a nice complimentary flavor.
Most of the ones I have made I cracked the shell too finely, and the tea seeped in and just colored the entire egg. Still tasted good, but not something I would serve at a party.
I think the secret it to tap the egg with a butter knife instead of rolling it, and using really strong tea to steep in.
Next, deviled tea eggs...I'm sure I will come up with some really horrendous combinations in the beginning...scallions, ginger, something that colors the egg yolk to compliment the marblized white...add texture...truffles...ham...beans...hash...hmmmm, not all together though
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Greg
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 11:07 pm    Post subject: Cracked eggs Reply with quote

Four eggs into the pot, three cracked within 10 seconds. Anyone have an alternative method?
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1622
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 5:18 am    Post subject: Re: Cracked eggs Reply with quote

Greg wrote:
Four eggs into the pot, three cracked within 10 seconds. Anyone have an alternative method?

I'm retesting the cooking method with a couple different pots as we speak. I'll probably update the recipe with a non-boiling recipe once I'm done with my tests. Stay tuned.
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Michael Chu



Joined: 10 May 2005
Posts: 1622
Location: Austin, TX (USA)

PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I finished running another set of soft boiled egg tests and updated the article to use the boil water and remove from heat method which should result in fewer cracked egg shells. The recipe produces a soft boiled egg that is peelable and has solid whites with a viscous and flowing yolk. I'll be posting an article soon with the various stages of soft boiled eggs for those who want looser whites or a more solid yolk.
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Dilbert



Joined: 19 Oct 2007
Posts: 1007
Location: central PA

PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 12:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

a very old trick to minimize cracking is to pierce the big end of the egg. that lets the air sack expand and minimizes internal pressure.

there are purpose made "egg piercers" - I have used an ice pick in a pinch.
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jmcharry



Joined: 27 Jul 2008
Posts: 3
Location: Wilmington, NC

PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 2:16 pm    Post subject: Another Method Reply with quote

I use a hot pot for this. I put the egg in with the water tepid, and usually let it sit for a while to warm up a bit. Then I plug in the pot and let it come up to just starting to boil, unplug and cover it, and let it sit for four minutes. I quench the egg under cold tap water and shell immediately. Since I generally scoop out the egg into a bowl, continued cooking of the yolk is not an issue.
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chrr
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 22, 2008 3:59 pm    Post subject: Eggs cracking in boiling water Reply with quote

I use a needle and make a small hole in the big end. The eggs never ctack.
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nzpierre
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 1:20 am    Post subject: Boiled Eggs Reply with quote

Gday from a fellow Engineer in NZ. Just made the boiled eggs and my wife declared them the best she had ever had. The idea of peeling them is amazing - great stuff!

Regards,

Pierre
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 11:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My own technique is rather different. Instead of throwing the eggs in boiling water, with the risk of cracking them due to the temperature shock, I put them in cold tap water which I then bring to the boil. It takes some experimentation to figure out how long you then need to put them on the fire, but it works and it works quite reliably. For soft yolks, in my case (at sea level, ymmv) 8 minutes does it. For semi-soft yolks, 10 minutes is what you want.c
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kayenne
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 23, 2008 5:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i agree with an above comment. if cooking just 2-3 eggs, i don't really bother covering the eggs completely with water. Mine usually goes up to only half or a little over half the eggs. bring water to a boil, turn off heat, put in eggs and cover. i usually take out mine after 6 minutes, if the eggs came from the fridge. i love them a little runnier. 10 minutes to hard-cook it.

Greg,
if your concern about cracked eggs are on the whites running out, i would suggest adding a tablespoon of white vinegar in the boiling water. that should keep the whites in.

or if it's the cracks that bother you, i usually wait about 30 seconds to 1 minute before i put in cold eggs. that had so far kept mine from cracking, and still cooks the eggs to my satisfaction. by the way, i take the eggs out of the fridge before i even start filling the pot with water to boil.
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