Wednesday, May 11, 2011

What a yolk

You know all the clichés about young people not even knowing how to boil an egg when they first move out of home?

Confession time.

Photo source
I cannot boil an egg (and I moved out of home eighteen years ago, almost to the day).

Well... I can, but rarely how I intended it to be. If I'm aiming for soft-boiled to dip toasted soldiers into, I will end up with hard-boiled. If I need hard-boiled for sandwiches or salads, guaranteed they will be soft. Runny, even.


I don't understand how this can be. I have followed various basic egg-boiling instructions over the years, none of which seem to work for me. I have a feeling that it may be related to my perception of at which point the water can be classed as actually boiling. You know, simple stuff. Cooking 101.

Anyhow. That I have trouble with such a simple culinary skill as egg-boiling implies that I'm a lost cause in the kitchen, right?


I can make fabulous curries from scratch. I can make a mouth-watering vegetable gluten-free lasagne. I can make a mean Mexican - again, from scratch. I can make perfect risottos.

Cottage pie, pumpkin pie, coconut custard pie? Easy as, well, pie.

I can make all kinds of scrumptious cakes that leave you wanting more.

I can follow recipes to a T, but I can also improvise with what's in the pantry.

I like to think I'm a pretty good cook, so maybe it's just egg dishes I can't handle?

Nope. I make knock-your-socks-off frittatas, awesome Spanish omelettes, and scrambled eggs to cure the mother of all hangovers.

Clearly, I can handle eggs - just don't ask me about cracking them. For some reason - like with boiling - I don't have much luck. Perfect cracks with yolks intact when making scrambled eggs, but if I want to fry an egg? Or separate the white from the yolk? The shell will not cooperate, resulting in a mangled yolk.

I blame the shell, of course.

To be honest, I've never really had an issue with my status as Failed Egg Boiler. I was okay with it, because of all the other things I could whip up.

Until now. I have a fussy-eating almost-five year-old, the Faery. It's always been a struggle to get a decent amount of protein into her.

Recently, she's decided that she LOVES boiled eggs, and requests them with a frequency that has me breaking out in a cold sweat.

Pre-dinner exchanges go something like this:

Me, "Soooo... how about some fish tonight?" 

The Faery, "Umm... no thank you. I want an egg! An egg in a shell with toast to dip in it."

Me, "Ummm... I'm not very good at making them like that. Dad makes them better than me, and he can make you some on the weekend. You can have some scrambled egg, though. Or a cheesy omelette?"

The Faery sighs, "Ohhkaaaaaaay." So hard done by, I know.

Nonetheless, I end up seeing myself as just a little bit of a failure in her eyes. Mum can't even boil an egg - what a loser.

If anyone reading this knows a fool-proof way to boil eggs, enlighten me. Please. For the Faery's sake...


  1. Mark Bittman is kind of a genius on the boiled egg front.

  2. Thank you so much! Off to check it out now.

  3. ok. If I do say so myself my boiled eggs for dipping toast are quite exceptional. We like a nice amount of runny yolk here but the white soft, not runny. Soooo, I put the egg/s in the pot and fill the pot with cold tap water until just covering the egg/s. I bring water to the boil with saucepan lid on/or off doesn't matter. Now I don't wait until it is boiling madly to start the timer but I don't start as soon as it is starts bubbling between (does that make sense?) I leave it boiling for 2 1/2 minutes, turn stove off and then leave until water stops boiling completely. Remove egg - chop the top off. Yum. Now I know the norm is to boil for 3 minutes but I find mine always end overdone if I stick to the 3 minute rule :o)

  4. Yeah I agree with Jen. Three minutes is almost too long. There's a lot of trial and error involved sometimes I think.

    You already know what I can't cook.

  5. @ Jen - I'm pretty sure that's my problem right there. Not knowing when to consider the water boiling enough, and start timing. Poor judgement! Your method sounds like the method J uses.

    I so love a good egg for dipping into. You have a photo that made me salivate when I saw it.

    @ Mel - I've had too much trial and error, methinks. Much, much error.

  6. Trader joes sells them by the bagful. Smart & Final did a few years ago but I don't know if they do now. But others those aren't the kind for dipping toast.

    Stop guessing it the water is boiling: use a thermometer!

  7. Ha! I guess I should actually buy a thermometer - good thinking.