A Comprehensive Guide to Eggs (methods, tips, cook time)

Upon my arrival to Canada my uncle greeted me with his first words to me: “I bought two carton of eggs for you and they are sitting in the trunk” (true story). My reputation surpassed my nine young years, and in both hesitation and perplexity, I smiled. It was foreign: the thought, the country, my uncle’s face.

But my uncle was right; I did have an incredible preference to eggs that apparently traveled 9, 384 km with me about eight years back when I was a baby.

We might all know the nutritional benefits of eating eggs. Although there continues to be debate around the quantity of eggs one should consume in a day as the poster in my doctors’ office that reads “It’s OK to eat an egg a day” accentuates the debate, eggs will always remain a good source of protein, vitamin D, B6, B12, and minerals such as zinc, iron and copper. As a person who is often health-cautious, and I attribute often to days I am not binge eating on chocolate-chip cookies as part of my cheat-day meal, I am always walking the fine line of healthy eating. Eggs in this case are always part of my diet. In fact, I might believe I have a somewhat unhealthy fixation for them as every bite has in it the equivalency of magical powers to me.

The immediate suggestion on Google’s search bar after typing ‘different ways’ is ‘how to cook an egg’. It is part of cooking 101 as cooking an egg properly is part of great culinary mastery (just ask Julia Child… but try Gordon Ramsey first). Although I have not mastered all the methods of cooking an egg, I do enjoy having my eggs in the morning scrambled, sunny-side up, poached, over-easy, in an omelette, and of course, boiled (hard & soft). I also enjoy combining my eggs with food items that will both elevate and compliment their taste (if possible), like: smoked salmon, cream cheese, roasted potatoes, fig and dates spread (seriously), and even cheese like Brie.

In here you will find a comprehensive guide to cooking and eating eggs from someone who simply enjoys cooking and eating eggs. Nothing more.

The Egg Guide

Scrambled Eggs

I attribute my fondness of eggs to my cultural background. Mediterranean’s have long cherished eggs as an essential part of their diet. In fact, the Mediterranean Diet is often valued for its richness in foods like fruits, whole grains, and high-quality protein such as eggs and dairy products. All these food items can be found on the breakfast table daily in any Mediterranean household (especially mine) because it has been proven that this diet helps keep you feeling full longer.

Cook + time: There are two (or more) ways of cooking scrambled eggs. In the Middle-East, eggs are scrambled in a bowl and poured straight into a semi-hot oiled or buttered pan, and then not touched! (not vigorously whisked as one does to scrambled eggs in the West). You just let it cook for about 40 seconds on each side. The end result resembles a crepe. Or, alternatively, we crack eggs straight into the skillet, and scramble it manually (using your hand and a fork) for time efficiency. We often might result to this method best.

The traditional way: pour the whisked mixture into a semi-hot oiled or buttered pan and gently pull the eggs apart with a spatula to achieve the ‘scrambled’ airy but forming egg texture. Salt and pepper. Cook until there is no liquid egg remaining for about 1 minute.

However, my cross-cultural influence of East meets West has taught me to also add a pinch of one these spices to my whisked eggs: thyme, paprika, chives, rosemary or oregano.

**Tip: adding 1-2 tablespoons of milk gives a light, fluffy texture to scrambled eggs.

I enjoy my scrambled eggs in a burrito-style wrap in the morning. Trust me, this is the best thing yet. Just add a tablespoon of the following: sour cream, avocado or guacamole, salsa, low-fat cheese, and fresh coriander.

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Hard-boiled Eggs

I have to admit: while making sure all my information for this post were well researched, I learned a thing here about cooking hard-boiled eggs that I did not know before.  I always cooked my hard-boiled eggs in a pot filled with water that was high enough to cover the eggs (just as how I saw my mother do it). Once a boil was achieved, I reduce the heat to medium-low and let them continue boil for about 12 minutes. However, according to Martha Stewart, and other eggxpert sites, cooking a perfect hard-boiled egg requires the following:

Cook + time:

  1. Fill pot with cool water and allow water to cover the eggs
  2. Cover the pot
  3. Place pot on stove on high heat until water begins to boil
  4. Once eggs begin to boil, turn heat off and remove from stove
  5. Let eggs cook for 10-12 minutes
  6. Remove eggs and place them in a bowl of ice water before cracking open

Steps 4+5: Good to know!

**Tip: To determine if the egg is fully cooked, try spinning it! A hard-boiled egg will spin around evenly, while a raw egg will wobble when spinning.

One of my all-time favourite way of enjoying hard-boiled eggs is mashing them with boiled potatoes, and adding salt, pepper, olive oil, and fresh mint. I grew up eating this, and I think a lot of Middle-Easterns’ could attest to it being part of their breakfast at some point growing up. It is undoubtedly delicious and filling (and filled with carbs).

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Soft-boiled Eggs

Culturally, I did not grow up eating soft-boiled eggs. I only enjoyed the luxury of this cook once I began cooking for myself. This is one of my favourite ways of eating eggs (a statement you’ll read continuously throughout this post).

Cook + time: The same technique will apply to soft-boiled eggs as did to hard-boiled eggs. Follow steps 1-4 as mentioned above. The vital difference is in the cook time. Soft boiled eggs only require 4 minutes to cook. To eat and enjoy, you just tap the top part of the egg, peel it off, and dig a miniature spoon in it.

**Tip: Set a timer. Do not underestimate the power of a minute when cooking a soft-boiled egg.

Sunny-side up Eggs

I grew up eating eggs mostly cooked this way. Sunny-side up eggs are enjoyed, in my opinion, universally. Every household that has adopted eggs as part of their nutritional diet would probably proclaim of this being the favourite method of cooking eggs. I can only assume. It is enjoyed universally on buttered-toast, with roasted potatoes, over grains, or how Middle-Easterns’ enjoy it: with pita bread.

Cook + time: Heat an oiled or buttered non-stick skillet over medium heat. Crack one egg at a time (carefully) into the skillet. Cook for 2-3 minutes. The tricky part is here: since the fat (white stuff) over the egg often does not cook, you will have to take a spoon or fork and move it over to the egg white part, careful not to break the yolk. It is a finicky act that requires patience and luck. The total cook time: 3 minutes.

**Tip: cover the pan or skillet and the egg whites with the fat will achieve a faster cook.

I enjoy my sunny-side up eggs over a piece of toast that has been smothered with sliced avocado or mashed guacamole underneath, and seasoned smoked salmon. I also add fresh shaved radish and dill.

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Over-easy Eggs

I began using this method of cooking eggs only until recently and I realized it had become one of my favourite and quickest way to enjoy my eggs both half cooked and with a runny yolk in the middle. Because poaching eggs (the next part) requires some steps, I still enjoy a soft middle by frying my eggs over-easy. In fact, I do this mostly as a replacement to poaching my eggs, and it goes perfect on my toast, English muffin, or over my breakfast potatoes.

Cook + time: Properly oil/butter/or spray a pan on medium-high heat. Crack eggs in the pan and let them cook on one side for about 30 seconds before taking a fork (this is what I use) or spatula and flipping the eggs upside down (yolk facing inward). With patience and a steady hand, make sure you apply this step slowly as the yolk is raw and could easily split. Cook eggs for about 2 minutes on the flipped side for a perfect over-easy egg. However, some people might prefer their eggs over-medium (slight runny yolk) with a cook time of 3 minutes or over-well (fully cooked yolk) of 4 minutes of total cook time.

**Tip: Gather the egg white, fold it on to the yolk, and then proceed to flip the eggs over. This reduces the risk of yolk spillage as it creates a ‘shield’ to protect the yolk or a ‘bed’ the yolk can lay on.

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A Pinterest success: I tried cutting out a round-shaped hole in my toast one day and frying the egg straight into the pan. It worked!

A Pinterest success: I tried cutting out a round-shaped hole in my toast one day and frying the egg straight into the pan. It worked!

Poached Eggs

Ah, the equally sweet and evil method of cooking an egg. Poached eggs have been proven to baffle mankind. I, myself, am proportionately puzzled every time I order Eggs Benedict at my favourite café and my poached eggs come looking snow-white. I have yet been able to figure out how some poached eggs come out so white that they would put the coldest, snowiest day in Canada to shame. This is where I ask: kind to share any tips?

Putting snowy eggs theory to the side, I find poaching eggs to be a ‘not a big deal’ method to cooking eggs. The key? Not over-thinking it.

Cook + time: Bring a medium-sized pot of water to a simmer, and carefully crack open a number amount of eggs in it. If you want to crack 4 eggs, I think it’s best to break it up in parts of 2. It allows for an equal cook time, and it is easier to leave room in the pot for when you want to take the poached eggs out at the end. After the pot has come to a simmer, crack the eggs in, reduce the heat to medium-low, and allow the eggs to cook for about 3-5 minutes.  One way of checking if the eggs are poaching correctly is by putting a slotted spoon in, raising one egg up, and tapping the yolk. If it feels runny, put it back in. However, you do want a runny yolk (that’s the entire purpose of a poached egg), but you do not want an under-cooked egg. A cook time of 3-5 minutes will, undoubtedly, help you achieve a perfectly poached egg without the wonder and ponder.

**Tip: Some chefs call for 1 tablespoon of white vinegar to be mixed in the water before you insert the eggs. However, I have tried it with vinegar and without numerous times, and the results for both were always the same. Perhaps I am using the wrong vinegar? Or maybe I am missing a key component to this trick, but either way, I always skip the vinegar (save it for my salad for later).

I enjoy my poached egg(s) on a toast spread with figs and dates jam, small slices of Brie cheese, seasoned smoked salmon, and fresh dill. Or, you can eat poached eggs the classical way: on an English muffin with spinach and smoked salmon, drizzled with (or covered in) hollandaise sauce.

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Omelet

When I think of omelets, Julia Child comes to mind. I am not sure why. Perhaps her wit is primarily the reason. I still chuckle when I think one of the omelet episodes on the French Chef where she advised the public to “use your hands when no one is watching” referring to how one might adjust the look of the omelet on the plate. Who else but Julia Child would say that?

Omelet’s are rare in my house. They are rarely consumed when I go out for breakfast, too. I always find them to be too dense, coupled with too much egg (a regular-sized omelet has about 3-4 eggs in it at some restaurants). But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy ordering an omelet here and there. Even so, there are times I might attempt to switch it up in the morning and make myself a garden omelet here at home.

Cook + time: One thing is for sure, though, the way that I have been scrambling my eggs (the crepe method- see above) is the traditional way of making an omelet. Sauté the preferred omelet filling (onion, peppers, spinach, tomato, mushrooms, etc) in a pan beforehand. Remove to the side. From here, you cook your whisked eggs straight into the skillet first, then add your filling after, and you have yourself an omelet.

Or, alternatively, the way that perhaps some people make an omelet (me): cook the filling first, then add the whisked eggs straight over it. The key here is to make sure the pan is properly oiled or buttered and is on medium-low heat before adding in the whisked eggs or the omelet will separate and/or brown quickly, or most definitely stick to everything. The omelet will take about 5 minutes to cook in total (with sautéed vegetables). You can sprinkle cheese or fresh herbs in the middle or on top if desired.

**Tip: Mastering the omelet method requires practice and a steady hand ready for vigorous stirring and jolting. The best video that showcases the importance of ‘jolting’ an omelet pan to achieve the perfect omelet is undoubtedly Julia Child’s.

Enjoy 🙂

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