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 Ramen with molten yolk eggs was developed, this type of egg is called Ajitsuke Tamago or just plain Ajitama for short.
- Soya Sauce
- Chinese Cooking Wine
- a Drawing Pin
- Garlic (3 cloves)
- Smoked Salmon (25g)
The first thing anyone learns about boiling eggs is to put cold water in the pot with the eggs to prevent them from cracking and leaking. This golden 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.
- Store your eggs in the fridge first and then submerge them in some tap water for 5 minutes to bring the temperature of the shell up but keep the yolk cold. A fresh egg will sink completely in water. If part of an egg floats above the water surface that means an air pocket has built up inside and it is a few weeks old – you may want to cook that egg fully. Also an air pocket means part of the boiled egg will be flat and the yolk will end up off-centre.
- Next heat a pot of water, adding a T of vinegar. Make sure you have sufficient water to cover the eggs.
- Using a drawing pin, punch a small hole at the base (the wider end) of the each egg. This will serve to relieve stress on the shell and prevent cracking since you are putting the eggs directly into boiling water.
- When the water is boiling strongly, lower the eggs into the boling water. If the water stops boiling momentarily after you put the eggs in, you are using too little water. Simmer from 6 minutes for medium sized eggs to 7 minutes for XL sized eggs. Use a ladle so you can put all the eggs in at the same time.
- As the eggs are simmering, prepare a bowl of iced water. Once the eggs are ‘done’ transfer them immediately to the iced water to prevent further cooking.
- 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 4T soya sauce, 2T Chinese Cooking Wine and 1t of sugar in the smallest container you have that can house the eggs without stacking them. Top off with water, stir and place the eggs in, making sure they 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 some taste to them.
Optional (i.e. if not eating with Ramen)
- 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.
- Cut a slice of smoked salmon into tiny squares.
- Use them both as condiments for your egg as shown above.
- This type of egg, that is to say Ajitama, is served with many types of Ramen.
- If you happen to be making Chashu for Ramen you can use the stewing liquid as the marinade instead of making it from scratch. The soya component of the marinade can also be replaced with things like olive tapenade, tea leaves or mashed anchovy.
- 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. When you lift the bag without a bowl, its narrow base can squeeze the eggs and cause ruptures, especially if you are making many eggs at once.
- The iced 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.
- The boiled egg is versatile. Other than the garlic/smoked salmon condiment combo suggested, you can try a wide variety of savoury alternatives like caviar, salmon roe, crispy fried bits of Iberico ham etc.