The coolest egg

Posted on September 7, 2007 by Aun

While the above might not be the prettiest picture I’ve ever taken — heck, it’s probably not even among the top 50 — I’m pretty darned excited about it. Or rather, what it’s showing. Obviously, it’s an egg. More specifically, it’s an egg whose white is set but whose yolk is soft, squishy and runny. It’s also subtly flavoured, having been steeped in a salty-sweet stock for several hours.

Ramen fans out there might recognize this kind of egg, which from the outside looks and feels like your average hard-boiled soy sauce or tea egg, but when bitten into yields a soft and deliciously oozy yolk. I can’t say just how much I love these eggs. I adore the texture and taste and can never get enough of them. Ever since I first had one, I’ve wondered how they’re made. Of course, no amount of asking at ramen stalls has ever worked. Either the chef hasn’t spoken enough English or quite simply hasn’t wanted to share the technique. Of course, some of the chefs could have just been pretending not to speak English in order to avoid turning me down directly.

Fortunately, I’m not the only one really into these eggs. Recently, a chef-buddy of mine (let’s call him “R”) prepared a roasted quail dish for a menu we were collaborating on. Plated with the quail were a couple of hard-boiled soy sauce quail’s eggs. Or so I thought. When I picked one up, he warned me to be careful and advised me to pop the whole thing in my mouth. When I did and bit down, I was rewarded with a marvelous mouthful of runny yolk. I was in eggophilic heaven. And since this buddy of mine (1) clearly speaks English and (2) was working with me, I knew he wouldn’t refuse me when I asked him how he managed to prepare these amazing little eggs.

Like me, after tasting the semi-soft, semi-hard boiled eggs served at various ramen shops, R became obsessed with trying to make them. Unlike me, as a trained chef, he actually knew what he was doing. He and another friend, also a chef, experimented with a few techniques and came up with one that worked. He admits that he has no idea if the method he’s come up with is the same as or even similar to the way that Japanese chefs make these eggs.

Whether it is the same technique or not, R’s method works. I tried it out using some chicken eggs, one of which is pictured in this post. To prepare these, your eggs should be cold, i.e. used directly from the refrigerator. Boil some water. Gently place the eggs in the boiling water, lowering the heat just a tad so that the water is bubbling but not so strong that the eggs are kicking around inside your pot. If you’re using quail eggs, boil for 3 minutes. If you’re using chicken eggs, boil them for 6-8 minutes depending on the size of the eggs. I used medium-sized eggs and boiled them for 7 minutes, which yielded a soft, squishy yolk. If you want a really runny yolk, go for 6. Prepare a malted vinegar ice bath (simply malted vinegar + lots of ice). Transfer the eggs directly from the boiling water into the ice bath. Make sure they’re completely covered. Leave them in the ice bath for between 3-4 hours. Take them out and carefully peel the shells off the eggs. Then place the eggs into whatever liquid you want to steep them in. If you want to make a typical soy sauce egg marinade for example, you can combine 1 cup light soy sauce, 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce, 1 cup water, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 10 ginger slices (bring to a boil and then cool). Leave the eggs in the liquid for at least 3-5 hours. You can store the eggs and the liquid in the fridge. But when eating, bring the eggs back to room temperature.

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his bouncing baby boy!

What Others Are Saying

  1. Siew yuk September 7, 2007 at 1:53 pm

    thanks for sharing this, i really do appreciate it! Know what you mean about obsessing about some eggs….Am an eggophile myself, having interrogated yakun staff in order to make their beloved eggs at home. i love love love runny egg yolks. i’ve found a wonderful source of free range organic eggs under $10 in outram. good stuff!

  2. Evelyn September 7, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    This came in just in time when my colleagues in office are talking and experimenting it at home.
    I love eggs myself and would love to try this
    Thanks!

  3. Rasa Malaysia September 8, 2007 at 12:43 am

    Gah, I tyepd a long comment but input the wrong authentication code and I hit on BACK and everything went missing. Anyway, was saying there is a similar technique to make very tender and smooth cold chicken dish…just boil the chicken lightly and let it sit in ice bath for hours to cook it. Amazing technique.

  4. cindy September 8, 2007 at 3:52 am

    Can I substitute distilled vinegar for the malted vinegar? Can any type of vinegar be used?

  5. Stephen September 8, 2007 at 4:10 am

    Yum, I love tea eggs. I like to just crack the shells all over and steep them to get that cool design on the eggs.

  6. Jocelyn Cheng September 9, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    Just wondering – what is the purpose of the malt vinegar?

  7. Hungry Hamster September 10, 2007 at 10:54 am

    Thank you for the recipe! I have been looking for it for sooo long!
    I have one question though, doesn’t the egg crack if you put them in boiling water right after you bring them out from the fridge?

    Thank you so much!

  8. Chubby Hubby September 10, 2007 at 11:14 am

    Cindy: Sure

    Jocelyn: From what I can tell, the ice bath helps stop the egg from cooking while the vinegar helps (1) soften the egg shell, making it easier to peel later while also (2) setting the white slightly.

    Hamster: You have to put them in gently ;-)

  9. Weylin September 10, 2007 at 3:04 pm

    Aun, I made the Macadamia Cake, except I made cupcakes and then whipped up lime cream, instead of syrup using Pierre Herme’s recipe. Thanks for an awesome cake recipe, check out the blog for pics?

  10. Stella September 11, 2007 at 4:25 am

    Eeek! =] I also lovelovelove eggs, especially the ones you get in ramen. They’re called ni-tamago, I believe… and that recipe is pretty much spot-on for a classic ni-tamago. Yummmmmm.

  11. tj han September 11, 2007 at 11:21 pm

    Hi, you may find this link of interest, if you haven’t already seen it. The science of cooking eggs indeed.

    http://khymos.org/eggs.php

    I guess the trick is to just have a water bath machine which can hold water at a fixed constant temperature for hours :)

  12. ginamae September 14, 2007 at 12:41 am

    I guess it’s a ramen/egg sort of morning for me!

    I found this alternative recipe for the same egg: http://www.japan-guide.com/forum/quereadisplay.html?0+32448

  13. Christine October 23, 2007 at 11:17 am

    Thanks for sharing this recipe! I tried it and it’s amazing! Eggs just the way I like them! I came across this in a caesar salad once and never forgotten how yummy it was to runny yolk and hard white. But the soy sauce marinade was way too salty. Next time I think I’ll have to cut the light sauce by half :) Or do u think it’s because I left the eggs in the sauce overnight?

  14. Chubby Hubby October 23, 2007 at 11:31 am

    Christine: You should make the marinade to your own tastes. If it is too salty, cut the soy or add more water and sugar. It should be salty, savory and slightly sweet.

  15. V October 24, 2007 at 2:42 am

    Hi CH,
    Do we need to refresh the ice bath when it gets warm after a few hours? Thanks!

  16. Pearl January 13, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    Hi ! I came across the recipe for ni-tamago just yesterday while doing my hair *& reading Her World ! I did an internet search for more recipes & yours came up ! What fun ! Many thanks for the tips ! I must have a go soon ! They are just the best in ramen for sure !

  17. Aoyama November 28, 2008 at 7:08 am

    Hey, I read your blog often; but i think what you are referring to is “onsen tamago”….

    In Japan, its usually made in lukewarm-hot water (think onsen temperature) and kept in there for about 30 minutes to an hour….in the same constant temp!

    Enjoy!

    (PS, if you wanna do it with the soy sauce flavor, some soy sauce, and “hakkaku” (I dont know what the name of it is in Japanese/Chinese is) will be perfect!) Good luck!!

  18. Max Ng February 18, 2009 at 3:57 am

    Hi,i actually tried making the quail eggs version. 3 minutes would actually be too long.
    1.5 minutes would be the magical timing. Very delicate though. For the light handed.

  19. Nico November 2, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Thank you for the recipe!
    I followed it step-by-step, except that I didn’t have malt vinegar, and substituted for equal parts of red wine and rice vinegar (what I had at home).

    the results were perfect! thanks!

  20. Graphic Chick Brisbane July 2, 2010 at 8:13 am

    This is very cool….a different way to look at food.

  21. Margaret February 5, 2011 at 1:19 am

    How long can these be kept once in the marinade? As much as I might think I want to eat them all at once, commonsense tells me to take it easy!
    Another food safety question: you can or cannot “reuse” the marinade? Once the batch of eggs is gone and it’s time to make some more, do you also make a fresh batch of marinade? I am guessing yes.
    Thanks for the recipe … it is so delicious!!

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