I like to think that, when cooking eggs in the shell, there are three stages: soft boiled, medium boiled and hard boiled.
Soft boiled eggs have fully cooked egg whites that are firm near the shell but soft around the yolk. The yolk is runny. I ate a lot of soft boiled eggs as a child. I preferred it over hard boiled eggs with firm yolks. The reason? The runny yolk. There are few things in life that is more sensuous than cutting through an egg yolk and watching the silky yellow-orange liquid flow out.
Medium boiled eggs fall under two categories. One has semi-firm yolk along the edges but still runny at the center (see soy sauce eggs).
The second kind of medium boiled eggs has soft but not runny yolks (see the ground pork menudo recipe featured in the photo above).
Hard boiled eggs, when cooked correctly, have firm yolks with no gray layer around it (see bringe recipe where the photo above was taken). If something gray surrounds the yolk, the egg is either overcooked or there’s too much iron in the water in which the egg was cooked. The gray ring is harmless but unsightly.
It’s easy enough to know when to pull the egg out of the pan so that the yolk is cooked according to your preference IF you can see the egg while cooking. When frying or poaching eggs, all you have to do is move the pan a bit to see if the yolks are still jiggly. But when the eggs are cooked inside their shells, it’s a different story.
Some cooks go by the number of minutes the eggs are submerged in hot water. There are those who live by the absolute rule that five minutes of cooking will yield soft boiled eggs while 12 minutes of boiling will result in hard boiled eggs.
The problem with this approach is that egg sizes vary. Small eggs will go over the soft boiled stage after five minutes of cooking while extra large eggs will have runny whites and uncooked yolks.
And then, there’s the matter of WHEN to put the eggs in the water. Some cooks recommend dropping the eggs into the water after it has reached boiling stage while others say it is better to put the eggs in a pan of water before putting the pan on the stove.
There are cooks who say it is best to drop eggs in boiling water then turning off the heat and covering the pan tightly. How long the eggs bathe in hot water depends on whether you want them soft or hard boiled.
Another issue is whether to remove the eggs from the hot water after bathing there for the required number of minutes. Dump them in a bowl of cold water, some say, to immediately stop the cooking process.
With so many techniques, and each claiming to be the foolproof formula, it’s all so confusing.
Here at home, we finally managed to eliminate all the confusion after buying a gadget called Egg Timer.
It’s shaped like an egg with a flat bottom. There are lines from the edge going toward the center marked soft, medium and hard. You drop the Egg Timer in a pan with the eggs, pour in water and start heating. After the water reaches boiling point, a white ring will form around the edge of the Egg Timer. The white ring will grow and creep towards the center as the Egg Timer continues to be in contact with the boiling water. When the white ring reaches the “soft” line, the eggs are soft boiled. When it reaches the “medium line”, the eggs are medium boiled. When the white ring reaches the “hard” line, the eggs are hard boiled. For medium boiled eggs with runny yolks, I pull them out of the water when the white ring is between the “soft” and “medium” lines.
In all cases, as soon the eggs are cooked to my desired doneness, I scoop them out of the water and place them in a bowl of iced water.
The Egg Timer has not failed us so far. Note, however, that we only use large and extra large eggs at home. Whether the gadget will work will smaller eggs, I have no idea.
So, where can you buy the Eggtimer? We ordered them online. Speedy’s Chicago-based brother shared a video of the thing on Facebook, Alex got all excited and we ordered ours from Dude Gadgets. On Amazon, it is called Pop Egg Timer. For those in the Philippines, you can buy the Eggtimer from Lazada.
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