I feel sort of dumb for writing this. But here’s the thing. When I first started cooking, I was really clueless, and largely on my own (being on a college campus and all). And I remember this terrible night where all I wanted was a good, simple fried egg. But I completely botched the operation. The eggs stuck, the pan was a mess, and somehow the egg turned out soggy.
So for all you newbies (or seasoned experts who can critique my methods), here is how I fry the humble yet extraordinary egg to blissful perfection.
Fried Egg (hmm, there’s no way to make that sound fancy)
First off, your egg-frying pan is very important. Most people will tell you to go the nonstick route, but since nonstick pans are definitely iffy in the toxin department (check out this article from the Examiner), we’ve got the non-reactive sort of pans left to choose from. Stainless steel can work, but since I’m a home cook and not a restaurant chef, I leave that to the professionals. My favorite pan for the job? The cast-iron skillet.
I love my cast iron. Half my life for the last year has been devoted to seasoning my cast iron pan to perfection (which is of course, futile. My pan won’t be near perfect for another sixty years). It has supplied me with many a scrumptious meal, including fantastic fried eggs. Now for the spatula. You need to scale the side of Mount Washington, crawl into a cave space, find yourself a flanian wish tree — only joking. Any spatula will do.
The Cooking Fat
Use animal fat, butter, or coconut oil. I am a personal fan of coconut oil, because it’s stable at high temperatures and doesn’t bubble and spit as much as the others. DO NOT use Olive Oil. It’ll burn.
1. Turn on your cooktop to medium/moderate heat. Once heated (but not screaming hot) melt about 1-2 teaspoons of your fat of choice in the pan. If using butter, you want it to smell slightly nutty when you crack your egg. If using coconut oil or animal fat, you want the oil to look as though it’s shimmering in the pan.
2. Crack your egg into the melted fat. Do this gently. You want the egg white to stay relatively contained instead of flying all over the place.
3. Turn the heat down just a tad. Just a TAD. I don’t know why this is so important, but it always seems to make flipping the egg later easier.
4. Now WAIT. This is the really crucial part. DO NOT FUSS. If you fuss, the egg is going to break, the egg is going to stick, the fried egg will turn into very pathetic scrambled something. Make a salad. Do sun salutations. But leave the egg alone. This initial waiting period will take about 4-6 minutes.
5. When the edges are brown and have begun to curl up on their own is when you can flip the egg. If the yolk is looking very jiggly or the edges resist when you try to flip your egg, give it a little longer. When the egg disengages easily, flip the egg quickly.
6. Turn off the heat immediately and sigh with relief. The hard part is done. Now you decide what sort of a fried egg you want. If you like your egg extremely runny, you can skip the flip and slide it straight onto a plate. If you want it just set, let the egg cook for an additional 30 seconds. If you like it completely cooked through, give it a little less than two. You will find your sweet spot. Commune with the egg.
I really like mine runny with asparagus to dip into the yolk.
And that’s all! Information overload, but what else am I here for?