In Quest of the Perfect Boiled Egg

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by rick alan, Oct 23, 2018.

  1. rick alan

    rick alan

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    I first tried these at a Raman place, absolutely 100% uncongealed yolk, absolutely 100% congealed white, and very firm. They were Jumbo sized I believe, I never got anywhere near perfect with large eggs, haven't tried xlarge yet.

    My best effort was 6min exactly and immediately into refridge water. Yah maybe I should use ice, but never use it otherwise and keep forgetting to pick up ice trays. Always some uncongealed white and congealed yoke though not much. Whites are not full firm and tear easily so requires care in peeling.

    I have to wonder if the ice is really going to make the difference, I guess I'll find out. I have to wonder if the Raman folks use special eggs, I know in Japan they do have some specially "cultivated" eggs. I don't think they were duck eggs, those having extra rubbery whites and extra gooey yokes, but maybe.

    You guys have any thoughts?
     
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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  3. rick alan

    rick alan

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    My internet is slow tonight so most picks did not download. But I believe I saw that post, I don't recall he made anything like I'm describing, did he? In some other post someone claimed to have made these at 185F for 6min (probably large eggs), but I can't believe it. I feel the yokes would have to congeal some at the lower heat, and that is just what happened when I tried to approximate using a thermometer, neither yoke nor white was even close perfect.
     
  4. Seoul Food

    Seoul Food

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    Did you try doing less active cooking time and then letting the eggs just rest in the hot water for part of the time?
     
  5. teamfat

    teamfat

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  6. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    1 minute at full boil to help set soft white. Chill in ice water 15 minutes. Immersion circulator 145F for 45 minutes. Serve at once or chill, peel if desired, reheat in water at 130F about 10-15 minutes. Works very well.
     
  7. rick alan

    rick alan

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    Hmmm, that's interesting that a 1min set time (which would also release the meat from the shell) would change the dynamic from the imperfect results Kenji was getting. With my current temporary living arrangement I am hesitant to buy any new stuff i don't absolutely need, but perhaps I can handle an immersion circulatory. Any suggestions for a basic home version?
     
  8. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    Thus far I like the Anova Nano or whatever the new mini machine is called. Haven't used it long. Hated the Gourmia, which has now died.
     
  9. Seoul Food

    Seoul Food

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    That seems like a lot of work for a boiled egg. ;)
     
  10. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    Perfection doesn't come easy....
     
  11. fatcook

    fatcook

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    Pressure cooking allows for consistency and easier peeling. The ice bath is definitely better then just cool water.
     
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  12. rick alan

    rick alan

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    A "recipe" would be nice, though I do not have a PC at this time.

    I thought to try something like Chris's double-dip. Maybe boil for 5min, chill thoroughly and boil again, question of course is "How long?" Thought maybe going for 6min to start, work from there. Honestly can't say it would take more or less. Heat transfer would be slowed through a non-liquid medium, so it could wind up taking more than 6min to finish.

    Yes that's certainly true, but @Seoul Food might be wondering what it's worth. Getting rid of that little bit of grainyness caused by the congealed yoke is the big part of it for me; second is congealing the watery portion of the white, which is less noticeable; third is getting the white nice and firm. It's all about fully enjoying the "pure egg sauce", I feel that is the perfection, and worth a little effort.
     
  13. rick alan

    rick alan

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    OK I made my first attempt at the double-boil idea Chris inspired. 5min boil, rechill and give it 6. I used just one egg as this is the only way to deal with accurately as I still have to pick up a wire baskets so as to get everything in and out in one shot.

    Turned out to be a double-yoker, and this messed up results a little. One yoke was smaller and it actually came out perfect. The larger yoke though was displaced up to the top of the eggs big end, and it got slightly congealed being closer to the shell. There was a small amount of semi-congealed white between the 2 yokes, understandably, but it was unnoticeable in the mouth. The white was otherwise nicely firm but not hard.

    So I believe that with a single-yoke this method will produce perfect results, even if I have to play with the boil times a little. I'm in no hurry but I shall get to that soon. Also perfect results may require the egg to be stood on end, but building that jig, if needed will have to wait. Mean times some of you should give the double-boil a try. What do you say teamfat?
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2018
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  14. masseurchef

    masseurchef

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    Recent (1-2 years) culinary school grad, line cook.
    Other than sous vide, I have heard the "best method" is to bring the eggs up to a boil, then remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes (or to desired consistency). Last time I did this they turned out a bit hard, but maybe I made a mistake with my timing.
     
  15. teamfat

    teamfat

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    Think I will be cooking some eggs later today and tomorrow. Seems to me that the various methods should indicate whether they start with room temp or straight out of the fridge.

    mjb.
     
  16. Seoul Food

    Seoul Food

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    This is basically how I make hard boiled eggs. I boil them for a set amount of minutes, turn off the heat and let them sit in the pot for another timed set and then empty the pot out and run under cold water. I would guess you could adapt it to cook the yolk less but I haven't tried nor do I know exactly the texture of the egg you are trying to achieve. Good luck though.
     
  17. rick alan

    rick alan

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    You absolutely need to put the eggs into boiling water, or you will never get the shell off anything even remotely approaching clean, as the white will stick to it as if epoxied. This wouldn't matter as much if you were doing typical hard or soft boiled and dining unpeeled with egg cup and spoon.

    MJB, in all cases, except maybe sous vide, you start out of the fridge. In my current ignorance I have to doubt a little that sous vide will produce the results I'm looking for. I'll be finishing my second part of a double-boil tonight, I'll report back with the results.

    PS - SF, look at the OP, it describes exactly what I am going for.
     
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  18. Seoul Food

    Seoul Food

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    Sorry if I was unclear, I meant that I haven't personally eaten a egg as you described, not that I wasn't aware of the style you were trying to achieve.
     
  19. chrislehrer

    chrislehrer

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    I've done a fair bit of reading about this question, most notably when I suddenly ended up with 90 quails' eggs and was trying to figure out how to cook them properly. I also really, really hate chalky yolks.

    The basic problem is this: an egg has 3 significant types of material, each of which reacts differently to heat, and furthermore time is a significant factor that is not entirely aligned with temperature. Then there's the whole peeling problem, to which nobody seems to have found really effective solutions.

    3 Materials
    An egg has yolk, loose white, and tight white. If you crack an egg into a sieve, the loose white is the stuff that runs through easily, leaving behind the tight white and the yolk. The older the egg is, the more of the white that is loose, because of a steady shift in pH, as well as drying and some other factors.

    Tight white begins to set at 140F, and is perfectly gelled at 145F.

    Loose white sets quite slowly, and only holds its shape properly once it reaches about 160F.

    Yolk begins to get thick at around 145F, and becomes fairly firm at 150F.

    Time
    However, all of this is affected by time, most dramatically with the yolk, and least dramatically with the loose white. In other words, if you cook an egg in an immersion circulator at 145F for 30 minutes, the tight white will be just set, the loose white will be liquid, and the yolk will be indistinguishable from raw. Take that to 45 minutes and the yolk will be beginning to thick. Take it to several hours and you can get the yolk to set -- but the whites won't change noticeably. If you want a really weird result, try cooking an egg at 145F for 24 hours or more: you'll get a little more firmness in the whites, though not much, but the yolk will go chalky and greenish!

    Approaches
    One standard approach, advocated for example by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt of The Food Lab, is essentially to ignore the loose white. You cook your eggs at 145F for 45 minutes, leaving a nice tight white and beautifully runny yolk. When you peel the egg (carefully!), much of the loose white will run off. The resultant oeuf mollet is rinsed in ice water until needed.

    The advantage of this approach is that it's simple, for one thing. Beyond that, it is often (but not always) the case that the liquid loose white creates a kind of buffer zone between the membrane on the shell's interior and the cooked egg, making peeling easier. Unfortunately, sometimes you get the opposite result, and so far as I am aware, there is no way to ensure the former rather than the latter. The disadvantage, of course, is that you're throwing away a certain amount of egg white. Not that it's all that wasteful, but it does make the eggs a little irregular in appearance.

    Another approach, with which I've been experimenting, is to "blanch" the egg in rapidly-boiling water for 1 minute, then chill it in ice water for 15 minutes or so to bring it back to fridge temperature. Then cook the egg in the bath at 145F as before. The thing is, most of the loose white is on the very outside of the egg, because the tight white is contained within a soft, fragile membrane, and the loose is what is not so contained. When you put the egg in very hot water, the loose white is briefly exposed to a great deal of heat, bringing it up toward setting temperature (160F). Since egg gelling is not thermo-reversible, when you drop the egg into ice water, the loose white remains semi-set, but the rest does not cook. Then you cook at 145F as before, leaving a completely set white and a runny yolk. I have found that, for reasons I'm not quite clear on, this setting process also seems to make the loose white detach from the membrane on the inside of the shell, making peeling easier -- but again, it doesn't work every time. When it does work, you have a perfect peeled egg, except that the inside is liquid and the white isn't at all rubbery.

    Questions
    A. I have not yet sat down and worked out a clear experimental protocol for testing the "blanching." The basic question is obvious enough: how long does it take for the loose white to set, or come very close (let's say, 155F)? How long does it take before the tight white gets over 145F, and thus becoming firmer than desired?

    B. Experiments by many other people have demonstrated that:
    1. Pricking an egg with a pin into the air chamber does not prevent cracking. It does, however, prompt the whites to act as a sort of bandage if there is cracking.
    2. Old and fresh eggs do not consistently peel differently. It is true that old eggs dry out somewhat, and there is a pH shift, and this does tend to pull away from the shell membrane. But all theory aside, exhaustive peel-tests show that eggs peel or don't, and age doesn't have any consistent effects.
    3. Boiling eggs in acidulated water does not make them peel more easily. It can soften the shell slightly, but not to such a degree that it has practical effects on peeling.
    All that being the case, is there any way to improve your chances of a perfect peel?

    C. Some people claim that steaming in a pressure-cooker works, the theory being that the high pressure contracts the air chamber and thus causes the egg to become smaller inside the shell, which when combined with the gelling gives you a partly-released egg. Whether this is true or not, there is a real problem with the method, in that you simply cannot expose an egg to a pressure-cooker environment briefly: it takes time to come up to pressure, even with rapidly-boiling water, and it takes time to depressurize, and all of this is relatively uncontrolled and uncontrollable. You may be able to get decent hard-boiled eggs this way, but I am skeptical about perfect oeufs mollets.

    D. If it can be established how long it takes for loose white to set at boiling temperature without setting the white, can we then derive from this a formula for the rapidity of energy movement across the egg contents, from outside in? If so, you should be able to calculate, within a relatively small margin, how long to cook quail or duck eggs.
     
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  20. rick alan

    rick alan

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    Turns out I had a wine tasting event tonight so did not get to the eggs. No $100+ bottles this time, a few $50 bottles that were OK but not a scream. For 20 and some change a new California called Tenshen (actually a play on spelling for tension, the last e also turned upside down). It was out of the ordinary and in a very good way, and my only buy of the night.

    Interesting what you say about the loose white. In all my attempts the loose white has been captured between the tight white and the yoke.

    Dropping, oops excuse me, carefully placing the egg into boiling water always releases the shell (and skin) from the white in my experience, at least when using boiling times sufficient to set up most of the white. The double-boil makes the whites nicely firm. 5min first-boiling is perfect for a jumbo egg, just leaves most of the loose white uncongealed, doesn't touch the yoke, not yet anyways. From there it would be interesting to try sous vide and see if you get not-too-soft whites.

    Ken's Raman in Providence RI is still around, there is a chance they will give out their recipe for achieving the perfect egg here, wouldn't think it to be any big deal trade secret for them. Now that I've satisfied myself that we've done at least a fair amount of the engineering here on our own, I am going to call them tomorrow asking and see if they don't just laugh at me.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018