The great perfect boiled egg debate!

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I love love love soft-boiled eggs served with buttered toast cut into toast soldiers, and all my life I’ve loved them cooked exactly the same way.  The white’s juuuust set and the yolks runny and creamy ready to be dunked by my buttered soldiers.  One of life’s disappointments is when you flip the lid on your googy egg and it’s rock solid.  The white’s are rubbery and the yolk is fully set and floury. When that happens, I just wanna go straight back to bed and start again.

If you jump on the interweb you will find a stack of different ways to cook the perfect egg; putting the egg in boiling water, in cold water, using a small saucepan, a large saucepan, pricking the egg, cooking the egg off the heat….see? the options are endless and confusing.  So for those of you who like your eggs like I do, I have conducted a little experiment in my kitchen and tested 5 different methods by 3 culinary champions (Heston, Delia and David Chang) and little ol’ moi so you never have to feel disappointed when cracking open your egg. Alright, let’s do it!’

Just one thing before we start, so you know I used green’s free range 700 g eggs which on average makes each egg approximately 58 g.  The annoying thing is that none of the methods outlined the size of the egg they use.

Method 1 – Heston Blumenthal

Heston’s method requests that you use the smallest saucepan you have.  Fill the water so it just covers the eggs.  Put the lid on the saucepan and put it on the highest heat possible. When the water comes to a boil, remove the pan off the heat and leave it for 6 minutes.  Remove the lid and carefully remove the egg.

I had high hopes for Heston’s method as I’m a huge Heston fan and thought his scientific approach to cooking would triumph in this experiment.  So you could say that I was super disappointed when it didn’t turn out as expected.  The white was completely solid and the yolk was mostly solid with a slight softness in the middle.  Not the way I enjoy my egg.

Method 2 and 3 – The lovely Delia

Delia suggests two different ‘fool-proof’ methods of which I tried both.  Both of them involved making a little prick (with a needle) on the rounded side of the egg to prevent the shell cracking.  For the first method you bring a small saucepan of water (about 1cm/1/2 inch above the eggs) to a simmer (never a fast boil).  Gently lower the eggs in and simmer for exactly 1 minute.  Remove the pan from the heat, put a lid on the saucepan and let it sit for 6 mins for a liquid yolk and a white that is set but still wobbly.  If you like the white a bit more firm, leave it for 7 mins.

This method was not too bad.  The white was just set, slightly wobbly on the top.  The yolk was mostly liquid but a little firmer down the bottom.  I wouldn’t be totally disappointed with this egg but it’s not hitting the egg jackpot.

Delia’s alternative method has you put the egg in a small saucepan of cold water again the water being about 1cm/1/2 inch above the eggs.  Place the saucepan on a high heat and as soon as it reaches boiling point, reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 3 minutes if you like a really soft-boiled egg, 4 minutes for a white just set and creamy yolk.  I cooked it for 3 mins.

This method produced eggs not too dissimilar from Delia’s other method.  I expected it to be less cooked given I only cooked it for 3 minutes but the white was just set on top but was a little rubbery on the bottom. The yolk was creamier than the Delia’s first method but was a little more solid down the bottom.

Method 4 – David Chang Momofuku’s 5:10 eggWatch Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

This method is in the Momofuku cookbook and is very precise cooking the egg for 5 minutes and 10 seconds, so you better have your stopwatch ready.  Unlike the other methods, Chang asks you to bring a large saucepan up to the boil on high heat.  Add the eggs very very gently (I used a slotted spoon to lower the eggs) to prevent cracking and cook for 5 minutes and 10 seconds exactly.  Take the eggs out plunge it straight into a bowl of iced water to halt the cooking process.

This method resulted in an egg that was essentially perfect in my opinion.  The white’s were just set but had a custardy sort of texture and the yolks were really creamy and soft and oozy all the way through.

Method 5 – Merci mama stylie

My method of cooking eggs is to prick the rounded bottom of the egg like Delia.  Bring a small saucepan of water up to the boil.  Gently lower in the egg, take the saucepan off the heat straight away.  Put a lid on the saucepan and leave it for 6 minutes.

Even though I pricked the bottom, the shell cracked slightly but no white leaked out.  The result was white that was just set but slightly wobbly and the yolk was soft and creamy all the way through but the yolk was not as creamy as the Momofuku method.

So my perfect boiled egg ranking goes something a little like this….

1st place – Momofuku’s 5:10 egg – a little more effort but results are worth it

2nd place – Merci mama (whoop whoop) – although the shell cracked the consistency of the whites and yolk was really good

Equal 3rd – Both of Delia’s methods had similar results.  You wouldn’t be dead disappointed with it but you wouldn’t be high-fiving either.

Last place – Sorry Heston, your method just didn’t cut it.  Not sure if it would work using a larger egg but this egg made me sad.



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  • Caroline

    Yum! I love soft boiled eggs too and could eat them every day for breakfast (or even lunch, snack, and dinner! 🙂 But to be honest, the result you got from Heston is by far the most delicious-looking in my opinion. I like my yolk a tad bit less cooked than that maybe but I really don’t like a still wobbly white. Hmm I want a soft boild egg now!

    • Caroline – each to their own right! go forth and boil an egg 🙂
      Alessandra – I agree, having it a bit under done is better than overdone!
      Spanish Wok – I’m not surprised altitude would affect the outcome, given it affects a lot of other things.
      Unoaked C – I would love to have hens and fresh fresh eggs, you guys are lucky! Sounds like you follow the Delia method but just a little less time. Interestingly I did read on her website that if your eggs are super super fresh that you should allow for an extra 30 seconds. Not sure of the reasoning but clearly you like your eggs runny just like me!

  • Interesting! I do it like momofuku but only 5 minutes (I will try the 10 sec more…) the thing is that I use free range eggs and they come in sizes so often I need to lift eggs out earlier from the water. A bit of a guessing game, but if i had to choose I prefer them more runny that hard.

  • What an interesting post. I’ll try momofuku method next time. Sometimes my eggs are perfect and sometimes. I am told by a chef it’s because I live on a mountain top and the altitude affects eggs,go figure!!!!!! You are welcome to join in my monthly food blogger event THE SOUP KITCHEN, here for entry details and current theme offering a new theme each month. All bloggers are welcome, hope to see you participate soon.

  • Damo

    Yay – a recipe I can follow with ease 🙂

  • Unoaked Chardonnay

    We have hens, and we keep the eggs on the counter (unwashed, farm fresh eggs have a natural coating that keeps them from spoiling), so the eggs are room temperature. This is how we make soft boiled eggs (our favorite for breakfast, too!): Wash the eggs. Place eggs into tap water in the smallest pan, water about 1/2″ over the eggs. Bring water to a boil over high heat. Hit the timer the moment the boiling starts — count down two minutes exactly (you can adjust heat during that two minutes so the water isn’t blubbing all over the stovetop). Remove from heat and cool for a moment under running water. Open and enjoy. Try it!

  • ca

    Thx for sharing diff methods to cook eggs..just wondering, for momofuku recipe..did u use egg diretly taken out fr fridge? Or should the eggs b at room temp? Do I turn off the heat during the 5min 10 sec? Or keep it on low heat? Thx alot!!:)

    • Hi there, I used eggs at room temperature and the heat is left on boiling during the 5 min 10 seconds. Good Luck and enjoy your eggs!

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  • Peter Wilson

    Thank goodness I am not the only one who gets disappointing results with Heston’s method.