How to Make a Perfect Fried Egg
“Perfect”, in cuisine, is a bit of a relative term. A perfect steak to one diner may be one with absolutely no color and lots of sauce. To another diner, “perfect” means that the cow is still mooing. And, per taste, who is to say they are not both right? No riots, please! Restaurant standard of “right” is medium-rare, as preferred by most diners. Still, you get to decide for yourself what is perfect for you.
So maybe this blog is about making a fine dining egg, standard style. If it is not perfect to you, change it. I won’t tell anyone.
Egg yolk is a great little “cheat” of sorts. It is a ready-made fatty, creamy, bright yellow-as-the-sun sauce. All you have to do is NOT cook it. In fact, yolks are often used straight from the egg and place atop a carbonara or bibimbap, nestled into a tartare, or carefully laid inside a cheesy filling and wrapped in pasta for ravioli. Using an egg yolk this way makes a dish interactive for the diner. As a fork and knife break through the surface tension and yellow sauce slowly oozes out, the dish is transformed.
Enough talk… Let’s make an egg to top some lovely spring asparagus.
The “Perfect” Fried Egg
To make a “perfect” restaurant-style fried egg, first preheat the oven to 350°. Maybe this is a bit of a cheat too, but the results are unarguable. You will also need a good nonstick pan that can go into the oven. Alternatively, you can use the pan’s lid to create all around heat, but I find the oven to be more reliable for consistent perfect runny yolks… especially if one gets distracted and has 21 other things going on in the kitchen simultaneously.
Also, start with great eggs. If you do not like the way your eggs are turning out, it may have nothing at all to do with your skill in the kitchen. It may just be the egg. There really is a difference between eggs from conventionally kept chickens and those that live free on a farm.
Next, heat your pan, not screaming hot, as we want to avoid crispy edges. Medium heat is good. Spray your pan with oil and get that hot too. We do not want this egg to stick to the pan.
Carefully crack your egg and place it into the hot oiled skillet. Then, using a utensil that will not scratch your pan, break the surface tension of the egg white to ensure even cooking.
When the egg white sets up a bit, but is not fully cooked, place the pan into the oven.
When the egg white is just barely cooked and the yellow is not yet cooked, remove the egg from the oven and stop the cooking process.
To me, this egg is perfect. The white around the very bottom of the base of the egg yolk is exactly where I want it to be. Often chef’s remove the egg when this little bit is not yet cooked. That is fine. I just prefer this level. Of course, you get to choose your own level. Using a hot oven makes this so easy!
If you only want the yolk, a cookie cutter will remove it for you. My little yolk-sized cookie cutter is missing :-(, but no worries! A bigger size will still get the job done, with a couple extra steps.
A Simple Spring Dish
Steamed fresh spring asparagus with lemon vinaigrette, topped with a free-range fried egg.
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