Sunday, April 12, 2009

Apr 12: Eggs for Easter?

Happy Easter!

Today is Easter and I didn't buy any dye to make Easter eggs. However, I got to thinking about hard boiled eggs. This year I'll make hard eggs two ways.

Egg #1: Slow Cooked Eggs... Really Low and Slow
Last year, I experimented with hard boiled vs hard cooked eggs. I was taught the preferred method was to hard cook eggs by soaking in boiled water. This is supposed to make a tender hard cooked egg. However, from my experiment, I couldn't tell the difference between the two methods so I just boil away for 7 minutes.

I remembered from a cooking class that egg whites will solidify (coagulate) at 140F to 150F while the yolk will solidify 150F to 160F.

Hmmm... [pondering] If we want a tender egg, then we just need to cook the egg until it solidifies. Cook the egg low and slow so the proteins don't toughen up.

Thinking I hit on something unique, I searched the web and found that chefs have been experimenting around with sous vide eggs where cooking is accomplished in a highly accurate water bath.

I don't have an immersion cooker, but I improvised one with a large pot of water. Using a lot of water is the key since the water will act as a heat tank - holding the temperature steady than using a small amount of water.

The Method:
1) Bring a large pot of water to 160F. Actually, my digital thermometer is slow to respond and low by 3 degrees... so I just kept the hot water bath between 155 to 160F.

2) When the temperature has leveled off and steady, I dropped in 3 eggs on a steamer basket. The temperature dropped 1 degree but came back up within a minute. Looks like the temperature will remain steady.

Cooking time: 35 - 40 minutes.

After 35-40 minutes, the eggs where placed in a cold water bath.

I was hungry so I gave one a try with salt and pepper.
As you can see the egg whites and yolk are solid, but not firm as you would have with a hard cooked egg. The egg white is very soft like a light custard. The yolk is firm.

Egg #2: Chinese Tea Eggs
This recipe is the opposite of the one above. No low and slow here... It's a double cook method is a couple hours of simmering.

Reference recipe: The Classic Chinese Cookbook by Leung, Mai, Harper & Row 1976

Tea Mixture
4 t Salt
1/2 t Five Spice Powder
4 tea bags
3 C Water
3 T Dark Soy Sauce
1 T Light Soy Sauce

Add the ingredients to a sauce pan and bring to a boil.

1) Start with hard boiled eggs.
Crack the shell, but do not peel.
Add to the tea mixture and let simmer for 2 hours.
After 2 hours of simmering, turn off the heat and let soak for 2 hours.

The results... the cracks in the eggshell allows the soy sauce-tea mixture to "color" the egg. The inside of the shell looks pretty cool too.

Side by side comparison of the two eggs.
As you can tell, the whites from the low and slow egg are very soft where it doesn't hold it's shape. The tea egg is solid.

As you can see, the yolks are vastly different. Firm yet tender compared to firm and powdery. Also, the long soak created a green ring around the tea egg. For the tea eggs, I hard boiled the eggs and immediately cooled the egg to prevent to green ring. However, the reheating must have driven the iron back towards the yolk.

I'm not a big fan of hard eggs, but it's fun to try something different.
The low and slow egg worked as I expected and not bad. I don't know if I dig the very soft egg white. It's a texture thing. If I try this again, I'll shoot for a higher temperature.... maybe 160 to 165F.

The tea eggs have a nice flavor, but powdery egg yolks are unappealing to me. Maybe that's why I prefer deviled eggs... the mayo moistens the cooked yolk.


Audax Artifex said...

John firstly I just adore the photos from the Emerald City ComicCon especially the stormtroppers costumes.

Very interesting posting about eggs I do like very soft boiled eggs and yours like perfect, I don't know about the tea eggs though I was always taught that a green lining on the yolk was a sign of a bad cook but the whole peeled eggs look fascinating maybe I won't reheat if I do this recipe.

O I'm on "the stop" in the DB forums this week I you want to have a look.

Eat4Fun said...

What I learned is the green ring is due to slow cooling. If eggs are cooled immediately, no green ring will occur.

In regards, the tea eggs... I believe the best way to make the eggs w/o the green ring is to soak in a cool/cold tea mixture or cool immediately after boiling... which means another experiment in the future. lol :)

Lisa said...

I ADORE soft boiled eggs and yours look do the soy eggs, which look beautiful. You're killin' me, John!