Soft boiled eggs are versatile. They are my secret weapon. And they are deceivingly difficult to make. Growing up, a young American girl used to American breakfasts, it was always sunny side up or scrambled. Poached eggs were luxurious to me. Soft boiled? Not even on my mind.
A year ago, a recipe I was making called for a soft boiled egg. I had never done it before. I know people who have never hard boiled an egg, the easier cousin of soft boiling, and I dove into research. Now, it is down to a science. I will share with you my secrets.
Before that, I will tell you how to enjoy a soft boiled egg. With soldiers, for breakfast (for my US readers, soldiers are a piece of toast cut into strips… I know… it’s ridiculous). With a homemade bowl of ramen. With an aubergine dish I will share with you. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, a snack – soft boiled eggs are there for you.
You might think it is easy, just toss the egg in a pan and boil. You are wrong. I had many many failed attempts before it came out right. But enough about that. Here’s how to do it right:
Boil a pot of water. You want just enough water to cover the eggs about an inch. Once the water is boiling, get your eggs at the ready, but turn down the heat ! Have a timer ready for 6 minutes. Gently place your eggs in, if you have a skimmer use that, I use a ladle or a pasta spoon, and then turn the heat back to a boil. Start the timer.
You have turned down the heat so that when you place the eggs in, they don’t bounce around and crack. If they do crack (it’s happened to me), they will still cook. Don’t take them out, just let it keep doing its thing. Some things help prevent cracking, though, such as taking your eggs out of the fridge a few minutes before cooking. This is again targeted at US readers, as my European experiences tend to be that eggs are never stored in the fridge.
Cooking eggs is a science. I have messed up this science many times. I’ve had eggs that were just plain uncooked, and eggs that were overcooked (overcooked in re: soft boiled to hard boiled when I wanted soft) because I did not follow the timings. You don’t want to add the egg before the water is boiling, and you don’t want to turn it to simmer for too long. A good healthy boil will cook the eggs.
Now, once the six minutes is nearing an end you have options. Some people swear by an ice bath. I have not got a working ice machine in my freezer, so that is a non-option. The bottom line is, the egg has to stop cooking so you need cold. Usually, I run the tap as cold as I can make it with a bowl underneath, overflowing with water. I dump the water from the pot while running it under the cold tap simultaneously, and gently plop my egg into the cold water bowl, keeping the tap running.
I don’t recommend cooking more than 2-3 eggs at a time but that is because my frazzled brain can’t keep up with timings. You can probably do up to 6 if you have a big enough saucepan, but keep things easy for yourself. And practice makes perfect.
Now, after a few minutes under the cold tap, your eggs are ready to peel. I have no tricks for this, I am sorry to say. I’ve tried it all and found that none of those “easier to peel” egg recipes change much. It seems to come down to luck.
If you want hard boiled eggs, follow these same instructions but change the cooking time.
Here is a bit of help:
- 6 minutes = perfect soft boiled egg, with a liquid yolk
- 7 minutes = a bit more “gummy” yolk
- 8 minutes = still “soft” but firm soft
- 10 minutes = getting into hard boiled egg territory, with some softness in the centre
- 12 minutes = a hard boiled egg with a lighter yolk
- 14 minutes = the hard boiled egg you are used to, a firm white and yolk, not overcooked.
There ya have it ! The last step is of course to peel and serve. The best step is sitting down at the table, cutting into your egg, and watching the yolk drip out. YUM !
Leave a comment and let me know how this worked for you!