Recently I went to a restaurant where they served home-made pasta with a soft-cooked fried egg on top, and then proceeded to stir and mash the egg and whisk the pasta into an incredible dish in front of us. (This Italian restaurant's most popular dish).

In the movie Spanglish, with Adam Sandler, he mades a club sandich, with a soft-cooked fried egg, that then breaks and goes through the sandwich. (Youtube is filled with videos imitating this scene).

This seems to be such a popular concept (and commercially lucrative). (I admit I love it.) I wondered if there was a food term for it.

My question is: What is the term for serving a soft-cooked fried egg that breaks when the meal is consumed?

  • youtube.com/watch?v=mASVABRNeM4
    – Richard
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 15:50
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    fun fact: In the german cuisine exists also a meal like this, which is made of bread, ham and a soft-cooked fried egg. This sandwich is called "Strammer Max", which roughly means "hard dick". Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 19:40

4 Answers 4


There actually doesn't seem to be a special word for this as a technique - as common as it is (to add an egg to the top of a dish and use the runny yolk as sauce), it is usually just the dish name "topped with an egg" or "topped with a fried egg". Sometimes the egg is fried, occasioanlly poached, sometimes it is cracked on top of the dish and cooked in the residual heat - the goal of having the yolk serve as sauce remains the same, though.

Some dish variations specify the egg on top - in some south American countries, a steak topped with an egg is called a "horse-riding" or riding steak. I have heard of pancakes topped with a fried egg being called a "texas one-eye", though i can't find a citation just now. Pasta with a raw egg added, which is supposed to be cooked in the residual heat and make a sauce of the yolk - is pasta "carbonara".

Its a little funny, but as common as it is to find a dish with topped with an egg, so the yolk will double as sauce - it doesn't seem to have a name more specific. (And it is really common, all sorts of cultures have equivalents). You can say "topped with an egg", or use ElendilTheTall or ESultanik's suggestions for how to specify the soft-cooked nature of the fried egg, and people will probably understand you.

Edit: with the help of some comments from Andrew Mattson, Relaxed, and Chuu, we now have a potential term: steak "Au Cheval" (French) or beef "a cavalo" (south American) means a steak with an egg on top. The words look similar-ish enough to seem related in word appearance and meaning, yet from two different countries - which translate the term to horse riding or horseback steak, meaning the egg is on top of the dish. So with that commonality, we might take the term "Au Cheval" and take it to mean when an egg is laid on top of, or "riding" the dish. As a term it won't be too well known right now, someone may not be understood if you just ask for a sandwich or veggie hash "au cheval"... but if enough people see this definition, or start using it, it may become the official term for the cooking technique!

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    There's gotta be a French term, somewhere! :D Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 17:57
  • @AndrewMattson - ahahaha... if there is, I wanna know :D I think maybe it's too commonly used, so maybe nobody needed a term to describe it or thought it unusual enough to name it - since "with an egg" just covered the idea. Someone should make one up!
    – Megha
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 18:23
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    In French, “à cheval” means both (literally) “on a horse” and “on top of something” (or rather “in between two things” or “on both sides of something”). “Oeuf à cheval” therefore means egg on top of something and what is usually meant is a beef steak (the same dish is also sometimes called, arguably improperly, “steak à cheval”).
    – Relaxed
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 19:37
  • One of Chicago's trendiest restaurants is "Au Cheval" whose signature dish is a burger . . . topped with an egg. Nice to know where the name comes from.
    – Chuu
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 19:46
  • I think the Japanese dishes come with an "onsen egg". Typically served on the side but eaten added to the dish.
    – jiggunjer
    Commented Sep 3, 2016 at 11:41

In the US, where people care deeply about the exact consistency of their breakfast/brunch foodstuffs, the term is either over easy or sunny side up. Both denote a cooked white and a runny yolk. Over easy involves flipping the egg carefully to cook both sides, whereas sunny side up involves flicking the cooking oil onto the top of the egg to cook the top. The latter makes it somewhat easier to maintain a runny yolk.

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    Out of curiosity: Why would you need to flick cooking oil onto the top of the egg to cook the top while still keeping a runny yolk? I manage just fine without the oil flicking, or am I misunderstanding the desired end result? Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 16:42
  • Hmmm, maybe it's because of the "crispy browned edges of whites" that ESultanik mentions in his/her answer. Don't want those in my eggs. I fry my eggs at a lower temperature, add a teensy weensy bit of water after the whites start to solidify, and steam them to doneness with the lid on in the remaining minute or two. Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 16:47
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    I think OP is referring to the general concept of having an egg cooked that way that gets mixed in with the main dish, more than the term for the state of the egg, if I read the question correctly. Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 17:58
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    I wanted to answer that this is called "a la Holstein" since Wienerschnitzel topped with a fried egg is called Wienerschnitzel a la Holstein, but apparently the "a la Holstein" refers specifically to a Wienerschnitzel dish topped with not only a fried egg, but also anchovies and capers. Alas. Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 18:06
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    @WillemvanRumpt Flicking hot cooking oil (or butter) onto the top of a runny, sunny-side-up fried egg will ensure that the egg-white on the topside is evenly cooked and rendered "white" rather than translucent around the yolk. I do this before its service and consumption. It looks and tastes better that way. Yummy! Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 4:11

ElendilTheTall beat me to it; read their answer for more info.

I will add that, at least in the US, whenever a menu states that a dish is topped with a "fried egg," it almost always implies that the egg will have a runny yolk. You often see this on sandwiches (particularly hamburgers), and often as an optional addition. Typically, the egg will be shallow fried similar to what is sometimes called the "Spanish Method." This produces a solid white, runny yolk, and crispy browned edges of the whites. Ordering eggs "over easy," "sunny side up," or "soft poached" at most breakfast/brunch places will produce a solid white and runny yolk, but it will typically not result in the crispy edges.

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    Here in the UK you'd ask for it 'with a runny yolk'
    – immutabl
    Commented Sep 2, 2016 at 21:25
  • Also 'soft boiled', and 'over medium' (which has a liquid yolk, but it's thickened some like what you'd think of as a sauce)
    – Joe
    Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 1:27
  • You see this with the Korean dish, BiBimBap (mix of cooked marinated meat and assorted vegetables on a bed of hot rice). It comes with a runny-yolked egg on top, which gets mixed in with everything. I think the more traditional method is to crack a raw egg into the steaming hot rice, and then the egg gets cooked when it's mixed into the rice, but for the sake of health departments and restaurant licenses, they cook it, minimally, before putting it on top. Commented Sep 7, 2016 at 20:28

Perhaps the best soft cooked egg to stir into a dish is the Japanese style "onsen egg", an egg traditionally cooked in a hot spring. This can be done perfectly every time at home cooking the egg in a sous vide bath of water at 168 F for twelve minutes then cracked over the food. A perfect poached egg drops from the shell.

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