The Chang Egg
You’ve probably heard the line that every fold in a chef’s hat represents one way to cook an egg and a chef must master all of the possible ways to cook eggs before they can wear the hat.
Frankly, I think this is BOLOGNA because I’ve been to dozens of restaurants that have downright massacred eggs.
Eggs are just tricky beasts and even if you spend years and years practicing, you’ll probably find yourself cursing at a egg at some point if you intend to learn how to cook seriously. I don’t even consider myself a serious cook and I’ve had days where I want to never look at an egg again.
Most recently, this happened on the day I tried to master the soft boiled egg. I called it my eggsperiment and it was a disaster. I actually boycotted the soft boiled egg after that day saying I would never try to make an egg any way other than just poaching it.
That all changed though when I got addicted to the show Mind of a Chef on PBS a few weeks ago. The show is basically a mini-biography of David Chang and in each episode he provides some simple recipes that are, actually, secretly hard.
But one recipe that looked easy, and blew my mind, was his way of cooking lots of poached eggs perfectly. I had to try it. It worked. So I thought I would spread the word.
1) Bring a large pot of water to just under a simmer. It should be steaming, but not boiling or simmering at all.
2) Working with one egg at a time, line a bowl with a piece of plastic wrap about 8 inches long.
3) Spray the plastic wrap very lightly with nonstick spray.
4) Crack an egg into the center of the bowl. Pull the edges of the plastic wrap up to form a little packet with the egg in the center.
5) Twist the plastic so it seals at the top and use a small piece of kitchen twine to keep it secure. Do as many eggs as you want this way!
6) When you’re ready to cook the eggs, just dangle them in the water and make sure they aren’t touching the bottom of the pan. Move them around slowly so the water circulates around the eggs. Cook them for about 3-4 minutes depending on the size of your egg. At any point you can lift the eggs out of the water and feel them, they should be firm and white around the outside but give a bit in the center.
7) When they are done, move all the eggs to an ice bath to stop the cooking.
8) When you’re ready to serve the eggs, just dunk them back in the hot water or about 15 seconds to reheat them. Then cut off the top of the plastic and the plastic will fall away and you’ll be left with a perfect soft cooked egg.
Leftover eggs can keep fine for a few days in the fridge in their plastic wrap shell.
This is kind of a crazy way of making eggs, but it actually works and might be easier for some people than poaching eggs.
To start, you’ll need eggs! The fresher the better. If you can get your hands on some nice farm-raised eggs, go for it.
The trick to this method is that you cook the eggs wrapped in plastic wrap. This has a ton of practical benefits.
1) All the eggs have roughly the same shape so they’ll cook at roughly the same pace.
2) You can cook a bunch of eggs at once.
3) You can cook the eggs before you actually need them and they still turn out perfectly soft-boiled.
4) You can poke the eggs as they cook to check doneness.
The way you make the packet is pretty straightforward. Just line a small bowl with about an 8-10 inch piece of plastic wrap and then crack an egg in the center.
Fold the edges of the plastic wrap up and twist it tightly to form a little packet.
Use a piece of twine to tie off the top of each packet and move on to the next one.
Assuming you have a large pot, you could literally cook a dozen eggs at once with this method because they are all wrapped individually in little packets.
Cooking the Eggs
When you are ready to cook your eggs, bring a large pot of water to a steaming point. It shouldn’t be simmering or boiling. If you have a thermometer, it should be about 70 degrees Celsius.
Then just toss your eggs in! The string is important because you don’t want the eggs to sit on the bottom of the pan. If they do, they will get to hot and it’s possible that the plastic wrap will melt!
The eggs will take about four minutes to cook. The nice thing about this method is that at any point you can pull the eggs out of the water and poke them. They should be slightly firm around the edges and opaque white. But they should give in the center which means the yolks are still liquid.
When they reach the right point, remove the eggs and dunk them in an ice bath which stops the cooking process. This is pretty important unless you intend to eat the eggs right away.
One Failed Attempt
I always try to be honest here and so I’ll do so yet again.
The first time I tried this I thought everything was going well and then I tried to unwrap my egg.
Disaster. The egg stuck horribly to the plastic wrap and it was just a big mess.
Oil is the key
This was an easy fix though. Before you make your egg packets, just spray the plastic with a very light layer of nonstick spray.
Continue as normal and when you try to unwrap your egg now it’ll be perfect!
Now vs. Later
If I intend to eat an egg immediately and I just need a few, I’m just going to poach them like I normally do. Even though this method is simple, it’s a bit more work than just tossing an egg in water with some vinegar.
But, if I’m hosting a few people and need poached eggs, I’ll totally consider using this method. It’s awesome because you can cook a dozen eggs in advance and store them in the fridge in their little plastic shells. Then when you need them, you just dunk them back in the hot water for 15 seconds to reheat them, cut them out of the plastic and boom. Perfect eggs.
This isn’t a method that I would use everyday to make eggs, but I was completely shocked that it worked and how it was much easier than many cooking methods I’ve tried for eggs.
I can think of at least a half dozen times in the last year where this would’ve come in handy!
I guess I’ll add another pleat in my imaginary chef hat now.