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Is there a fool proof way to make sure the white of the egg is set but either all or some of the yolk remains runny?

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6 Answers

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Very few people have tried a perfectly cooked soft boiled egg. There is a tradition among chefs of trying to show each other how perfectly they can cook something as simple as an egg. Chef Fernand Point, who serves as inspiration for the affable chef Gusteau in Pixar’s animated movie Ratatouille, would test his apprentices by asking them to fry an egg. With a responsive thermometer, such an infrared one, you can approximate their work at home.

If you ever get that mad scientist feeling, try cooking the egg in a bowl of water placed in the oven. Start with cold tap water in the bowl, place the eggs in the water and the ensemble in an oven set to its lowest setting. Every five minutes, check the temperature of the water in the bowl. If you are using an infrared thermometer, stir the water before measuring. Let the water hover between 65°C to 68°C for an hour. In most ovens you will have to turn the oven off and on to keep the water in that range. The result will be a bright yellow firm gel. I have a picture of the gel for the fried version of the mad scientist egg (what I call Eggs Mondrian):

Yolk gel from the Eggs Mondrian recipe

If you want the yolk runny, then the temperature of the water should be between 63°C (to cook the whites) but below 66°C to keep the yolk runny.

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brilliant, I've got various kitchen thermometers so I'm going to try and experiment get my egg to just under 66, thanks –  Chris Simpson Jul 16 '10 at 22:31
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There's a great chart that shows the changes to an egg in order of degrees from CookingIssues. cookingissues.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/eggchart2.jpg –  yossarian Jul 26 '10 at 16:12
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Well, I've wrote about it here, but I'll repeat:

Read this article for complete scientific explanation of the process: Towards the perfect soft boiled egg

You might want to check the timer as well :)

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+1. This is a great pointer. –  papin Jul 17 '10 at 1:32
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I'd prefer to see some of the text here as well. Sometimes the links just stop working. –  Jay R. Jul 17 '10 at 15:40
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Cook the egg in already boiling water for 4 minutes and remove. Hack off (more like tap) the top of the shell with your spoon, add some sea salt, and dunk in slender pieces of toast until you have consumed all of the egg deliciousness. If the egg is cold from the fridge, put it in the pan with the water as you bring to a boil; if the egg is room temperature (better), drop it into the already boiling water.

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haha, no I'm being genuine. I like a runny yolk but I can't bear if the white is runny. Therefore I regularly put up with hard yolks as I err on the side of caution. –  Chris Simpson Jul 16 '10 at 20:06
    
What? What does a blonde joke have to do anything. Also, "for real" is the term you're looking for, not "4 real". Update: Edited answer and removed antagonism, removed downvote. –  hobodave Jul 16 '10 at 20:06
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Like you, I love a runny yolk and hate a white that isn't set! I've been experimenting with the soft-boiled egg a few mornings per week for the past couple of years, and have discovered the following:

  • I like a 5-minute egg; the 4-minute egg is, by my lights, underdone and icky.
  • Barometric pressure does have an impact on how fast water boils and how quickly it boils away!
  • "Soft-boiled" eggs should actually be called "simmered eggs," because you DON'T want a hard, full-rolling boil.

To make a perfect soft-boiled egg:

  1. Remove your egg/s from the fridge and set them on the counter.
  2. Bring salted water to a boil.
  3. Put the egg/s into the boiling water.
  4. Boil gently for exactly 5 minutes, no more, no less.
  5. Plunge into cold water for about 5 seconds.
  6. Eat immediately!
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I get ideal results from putting the eggs in boiling water and then turning off the heat. Start the timer.

I find 6-8 minutes is perfect, while up to 10 can produce good results. Once the time is up, pour out the hot water and replace with cold water. This helps both peeling, and to slow down the carry-over. The whites are solid but not rubbery, and the longer time benefits a creamy, orange center. It takes longer, but the results are really tasty.

Note: use enough water in a big enough pot so that the number of eggs doesn't overly change the water temperature, otherwise the timing will vary.

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You can buy an egg boiler for cooking the eggs. Example:

enter image description here

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What if he wants to make an egg boiler? –  naxa Nov 10 '12 at 19:53
    
I couldn't tell if the question form was rhetoric or a new question, but decided to make it a statement instead of deleting it. Hopefully somebody will be able to confirm or refute the idea that an egg boiler can do this. –  rumtscho Jan 27 at 19:57
    
I can confirm that there are egg cookers that can do this. (They usually actually steam the eggs, but hey...) –  sourd'oh Jan 27 at 21:17
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