Half a boiled egg is perfect as an amuse-bouche or hors d’oeuvre. Its easy to prepare and can be cooked ahead of time. To avoid the powdery taste of fully cooked yolk, many recipes simply scoop the yolk out and mix it with something creamy like mayonnaise but I prefer the more natural solution, which is to have the yolk still runny after the white has cooked. In Japan, where the practice of eating molten egg yolk developed, this dish is called Ajitsuke Tamago or just plain Ajitama for short.
- Large Eggs (2)
- Smoked Salmon (25g)
- Garlic (3 cloves)
- Dark Soya Sauce
- Chinese Cooking Wine
- a Drawing Pin
The first thing we learn about boiling eggs is to put cold water in the pot with the eggs to prevent them from cracking and leaking their contents. This rule does not hold here as timing is absolutely crucial in having the yolk runny and white solid. Not to worry, there are a few tricks to that.
- Start by putting your eggs in a bowl of warm water to bring their temperature up. This will reduce the sudden temperature change when you place them in boiling water.
- Next place a pot of water to boil with a few T of vinegar. Make sure you have sufficient water to cover the eggs.
- When the water begins boiling, use a drawing pin and punch a small hole at the base (the wider end) of the each egg. This will further serve to relieve stress on the shell as it heats up and will prevent cracking.
- Lower the eggs into the boling water with a large spoon and simmer for seven and a half minutes. If you are using medium sized eggs, reduce the boiling time by 30 seconds to 7 minutes. Use a timer if you have one.
- As the eggs are simmering, prepare a bowl of iced water. Once the eggs are ‘done’ transfer them immediately to the iced water. After the eggs have cooled sufficiently, tap them over their entire surface to fully crack the shells. As the eggs are cold, the egg itself should have shrunk enough to detach itself from the shell membrane and this will help you to avoid damaging the eggs’ surface as you peel them.
- Mix 6T soya sauce, 2T Chinese Cooking Wine and 1t of sugar in the smallest container you have that can house the eggs without stacking them. Place the eggs in and top off with water till the eggs are fully submerged. Cover with clear film and refrigerate for a few hours, or overnight if possible. After the eggs are stained, they will retain some taste from the marinade.
- Near the time of dining, slice each egg into two, and place a few drops of the marinade onto the yolk to impart more flavour.
- While you are letting the eggs warm to room temperature, peel and slice three cloves of garlic as finely as you can and pan fry them in a dash of oil till they are golden. Also cut one slice of smoked salmon into tiny squares. Use them both as condiments for your egg.
- The boiled egg is versatile. Other than the garlic/smoked salmon combo suggested, you can try a wide variety of savoury alternatives like caviar, salmon roe, crispy fried bits of Iberico ham etc. The soya marinade can also be replaced with things like BBQ sauce, olive tapenade, tea leaves or mashed anchovy.
- The ice water is essential. Instant cooling will help ensure that your eggs are cooked to the correct degree each time. Besides, slow cooling results in a grey coating on the yolk which we’d like to avoid.
- In case you were wondering about the vinegar: All egg shells are made from calcium carbonate and the acid in vinegar leaches some of this out, making the eggs easier to peel.
- I was told recently by a chef that adding salt to the boiling water will centre the yolk. I can’t understand how this would work, but I’ll try it out in my next run.
- If you want to use a zip-loc bag to marinate the eggs in, make sure the bag is kept in a bowl the entire time. If you lift the bag, its narrow base will squeeze the eggs and cause ruptures.
- This type of egg, that is to say Ajitama, is served with many types of Ramen.