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When we go to a restaurant for breakfast and order eggs, we are often asked how we want them. I have a handful of ways that I will eat them (I often prefer over-medium) and I am sure there a large number of ways to prepare eggs I am unfamiliar with.

I have a question then on the various technical definitions of these preparations if I were to go into the kitchen and prepare eggs for someone else. Sorry if this question is too open-ended such that it would require pages and pages for a proper response. Like a good start would be the difference in over-{insert proper word} preparations or distinctions between some of the more popular methods.

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4 Answers 4

up vote 29 down vote accepted

Fried Eggs:

Sunny Side Up -- Not flipped, unbroken yolk. The top of the egg is just barely set.

Basted -- Sunny Side Up, hot fat spooned over until the white surrounding the yolk is opaque.

Over Easy -- Flipped, unbroken yolk, yolk runny.

Over Medium / Well -- Flipped, unbroken yolk, yolk cooked to have a firm but wet-appearing center.

Over Hard -- Flipped, broken, fully-cooked yolk.

Broken / Lightly Scrambled -- Broken in pan and gently stirred while cooking - yolk and whites should not be mixed entirely.

Scrambled Eggs -- Made in many different ways. Generally the eggs are mixed in a bowl before being put into the pan, and often stirred while cooking. Some recipes add fat to the eggs in the form of milk, cream, butter, or oil. A distinction can be made between Wet/Loose or Dry, which refers to the degree of doneness.

Omelettes:

Filled Omelette -- Eggs mixed before cooking, possibly with added fat as in Scrambled Eggs. Cooked in fat in a saute pan; when set but the interior still wet, previously-cooked fillings (cheese, onions, mushrooms, peppers, tomatoes...) are added, and the eggs folded over into a half-moon shape.

Spanish Omelette / Western Omelette -- Same as filled, but the egg mixture is poured over the fillings in a hot pan and cooked, thus incorporating the fillings into the egg.

Fluffy Omelette -- Whites and yolks beaten separately. Yolks are gently folded into the whites without breaking the structure of the whites. Optional toppings are added. Cooked slowly in a pan, or baked (an electric frying pan with a lid works well for this preparation).

Boiled:

Cooked in shell in water for a timed period. Some people will refer to degree of doneness by cooking time, i.e., a "3-minute egg" is soft-boiled with some runny white around the yolk. Some recipes call for eggs to be added to boiling water, others to be started in cold water. In the cold-water start, the pot may be left on the heat or removed when the water reaches a boil. The eggs may be shocked in ice water when removed.

Soft -- Yolk runny, potentially with slight unset white around the yolk.

Medium -- White completely set, yolk firm but with a dark, wet appearance.

Hard -- Yolk completely set and pale yellow.

Poached:

Egg cooked, out of shell, in water, stock, or other liquid -- excluding fats or oils -- at a temperature in the range of 160-180˚F (70-82˚C). There are possible degrees of doneness, however the typical poached egg has a runny but warm and thickened yolk and fully-set white.

Coddled:

An egg that has been very lightly cooked (poached eggs are sometimes considered coddled). This can either be accomplished with an egg coddler or cooking an egg in its shell with water that is slightly below boiling point.

Shirred:

An egg cooked in an oven at the low-mid 300's˚F (~160˚C), contained in a ramekin, until the whites are just set and the yolk is runny but thickened. Often butter or another fat is placed on top before cooking.

Steamed:

Very similar to shirred eggs, but the ramekin is covered with some aluminum foil and put in a steamer for 7-15 minutes.

In a basket: Eggs fried in a hole made in a slice of bread

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It's community Wiki. Feel free to edit it in. –  Chris Cudmore Aug 19 '11 at 18:39
    
Wonderful start! That should help tremendously in case I ever have to cook for a crowd. –  demongolem Aug 19 '11 at 20:13
    
@Josh Caswell - I think what he have so far should work for me for right now, thanks for asking. –  demongolem Aug 21 '11 at 23:00
    
Very nice answer. +1. –  TheIndependentAquarius Sep 15 '12 at 3:22
    
My grandfather used to call what you have as 'Lightly Scrambled' as 'Silver and Gold' (crack eggs into the pan, give the whites a few seconds to set up, then scramble it ... he wouldn't eat regular scrambled eggs after his time w/ powdered eggs in the Army) –  Joe Mar 31 at 19:05

One more: Smothered; this is where a pot lid is put over the eggs on the grill. This steams the top of the egg while the bottom cooks on the grill.

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By "grill", do you perchance mean "griddle"? An egg would fall right through most grills I've met... –  Marti Aug 25 '11 at 19:08

Chris' answer is truly epic. I'm adding this to cite a few less common ways of preparing eggs:

Balut:

A balut is a fertilized embryo, boiled alive and eaten in the shell. Too disgusting for the majority of the western world, is quite common in south-east asia, where it is sold in the streets.

Century egg:

Chinese dish. An egg is preserved with a mixture of salt, ash, clay, etc. for up to several months. By then, due to a number of chemical reactions, the egg will have changed a lot in flavor and appearance.

Pickled eggs:

What it says on the tin. Literally.

Tea eggs:

Again from China. Eggs are boiled, the shell lightly cracked, then put in spiced tea and simmered. The tea flows in through the cracks, the spices give additional flavor, and they have a very nice “marbled” appearance once peeled.

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It's not my answer. It's community wiki. Look at the list of edits for all the enlightened contributors. –  Chris Cudmore Oct 3 '11 at 13:41

Sous Vide - Eggs are cooked at a controlled low temperature between 60°C-64°C for up to an hour. The typical result is an evenly cooked egg where the yolks and the whites have an equal degree of doneness with a consistency of custard. Sous Vide eggs cooked at 63°C for an hour referred to as "The Perfect Egg".

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