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Last time I tried to cook sunny side up eggs on a metal skillet. I put butter on the skillet, allowed it to heat and then I cracked two eggs on it. Immediately I placed a glass lid with a hole on the eggs.

I found that the eggs did NOT turn "brown" from below (I kept on checking them periodically by lifting them up by a spoon).
After waiting for quite some time I saw the egg yolk wearing a white layer on them (from the top). I turned off the gas, and to my horror those were the most "hard" eggs I had ever eaten.

Without a thermometer what is the way to know that the "time's up"!

P.S. I DO want the salmonella to be killed.

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I would say that salmonella bacteria dies at 65°C, and yolk sets up at 70°C. But not finding good references on those values (yet), and being salmonellosis so dangerous, I don't dare to answer it as an assertion. –  J.A.I.L. Dec 21 '12 at 7:50
    
What was the purpose of the lid? –  J.A.I.L. Dec 21 '12 at 7:51
    
@J.A.I.L. Doesn't the look and feel or the egg tell in anyway that it is done? If instead of steaming, I simply fry it on the butter, then it gets brown very soon and I know it is done. –  TheIndependentAquarius Dec 21 '12 at 7:52
    
@J.A.I.L. To cook the top by steam. To cook both side parallely. To keep the yolk runny yet cooked. –  TheIndependentAquarius Dec 21 '12 at 7:53
    
My guess is that having steam arround, the ourter part of the egg doesn't dry, and so it doestn't get brown. But the inner part needs the same amount of time to get done. If you had it more time with the lid than what you would have had it without it, it's normal it's harder. –  J.A.I.L. Dec 21 '12 at 8:00
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I often cook eggs in a 1-qt pan with a glass lid. I make sure the pan is hot enough that the egg sizzles continuously when I drop it in, and then leave the lid off just long enough to season the egg. Then I put on the lid, and wait for the white above the yolk to turn translucent (which I can see through the glass). At that point, the yolk is a little runny; shortly afterwards when the white it opaque, the yolk will be congealed on the outside but still a little runny on the inside, and not long after that, the yolk will be solid. Depending on what I'm in the mood for, I take it out at a different time.

The bottom of the egg is always browned, and the white is fluffy and full of holes like bread because of all the steam trapped inside. I'm not sure why your egg isn't turning out the way you like. It sounds like it might not have cooked fast enough on top, but the bottom got overcooked and over-hardened and dried out.

I'd suggest trying a few things:

  • Don't check on the egg. Opening it up to check on it will let out all the steam. You might get a few wasted eggs at first while you get the hang of the timing, but it's not going to turn out right if you keep opening it up.
  • Heat up the pan more before you start. You can always turn it down while it steams, but I find that cooking it when the butter just starts to sizzle isn't hot enough; I make sure it's hot enough to make the egg sizzle continuously once it hits the pan.
  • Use a smaller pan. A big pan will take a while to fill with steam and heat all the way up.
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Watch the area around the yolk for it to become translucent. Jiggle the pan a little to see if it's cooked.

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Agreed, although I calibrate my pans and remember how they cook certain foods at certain temperatures, the jiggle method is a good sanity check. –  werdnanoslen Dec 21 '12 at 21:37
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