The Perfect Soft-Boiled Egg

Eggs, eggs, eggs! You can have them scrambled, fried or even raw. I think the way you like them says something about you!

Scrambled? Very untrustworthy—pray that the eggs are soft-scrambled at the very least. Hard-boiled? This person lacks excitement. Omelette? They’re greedy—what this person has will never be enough for them. Over-easy? This person is impatient, but skilled with a spatula. Sunny side-up fried? Top-notch human. Hopefully they’re cooking it in a puddle of oil and basting the whites until they’re perfectly set and the edges are frizzled and crackly. Poached egg? Wooaaahhhh, fancy! In the microwave (yes I know the hack too!)? Surprise, this person is actually an alien. Whites only? Run. Run. Run. Raw? Been watching Rocky?

Perhaps the most underrated way to cook an egg, soft boiling is just as easy as it is delightful. Despite its simple method, a soft-boiled egg has something about it that adds a level of sophistication and intrigue to any situation. Do not fear the runny yolk—it’s what makes this such an elegant creation.

Here are the steps:

  1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil, and then once it’s there, bring it down to a rapid simmer. Gently lower your eggs into the pan with a large spoon.
  2. Set a timer for anywhere from 6 to 8 minutes. As you make more and more soft-boiled eggs, you’ll have a better feel for how long you like to let them cook–the longer they go, the more set the yolk will be. It’s also worth noting that you might need to tack on a couple extra minutes if you’re cooking anymore than 4 eggs at a time. Personally, I can get down with a 6-minute egg. The yolk is runny (but not cold) and the whites are firm and set. However, if you like, by letting it cook for closer to 8 minutes, the outside of the yolk becomes somewhat firm and creamy, and the inside takes on a jammy texture.
  3. When you’re ready to stop cooking your eggs, gently lift the eggs out of the simmering water with a slotted spoon and place them into cold water, letting them rest for at least 5 minutes. Once they’re no longer hot to the touch, gently tap the egg around its entire surface on the counter to create cracks in the shell, and then carefully and slowly peel back the shell (aiming to pinch onto that very thin membrane that lines the egg’s shell and makes its removal seamless). Remember, if you only cooked the eggs for around 6 minutes, the yolk is not going to be solidified, so make sure to handle with care, or else you might have a punctured yolk on your hands.
  4. Serve your soft-boiled beauty on a piece of brown buttered toast, with cress or chives. And finish it up with a shake of salt & pepper.

The soft-boiled egg is the perfect cross between a hard-boiled egg and a fried egg, as you don’t have to cook it in any fat in order to bring it to life, but you still get that signature runny yolk that any fried egg enthusiast knows and loves. And that’s a pretty beautiful thing, isn’t it?

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