Everything You Can Do, Eggs Can Do Better
Why the humble egg is our pantry hero
Whether you’re cooking for one, two, or an entire family, there’s always more to be learned about the art of eating well, for less. In our Big Taste, Low Budget issue, we’ll show you how to be a smarter, more thrifty cook that can use up what you’ve got, pack flavor in a pinch, and drum up something inspiring and delicious with limited ingredients. To stay up to date, check back here for our latest recipes and articles from the issue, and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram for exclusive content.
The egg is a humble ingredient. Many of us keep them on hand at all times; they’re always in the fridge but hardly get any special attention. This month, we're focusing in on flavorful and filling foods that are easy on your wallet, and the egg is an all-rounder that completely hits the mark (of course there is a clear hierarchy when it comes to egg prices, so they can be more or less pricey depending on where you get them and which you choose). Eggs are especially great at turning a somewhat incomplete meal into an exciting one—I’m sure you’ve #putaneggonit once or twice by now? There may be nothing more satisfying than poking into a soft, golden yolk and watching it spread radiantly over your food, so keep reading for the all-egg-everything article you never knew you needed.
What makes eggs so special?
What often gets lost when we think of eggs and egg recipes are the many functions they can perform in the kitchen, making them a true superhero ingredient in terms of pure versatility. It’s clear that eggs are great at “gluing” or holding ingredients together. This is true for many doughs, things that are breaded, as well as recipes like Spanish Tortilla de patatas—which would be impossible to imagine without eggs.
Kitchen chemistry, part 1: Proteins
One of the reasons eggs are so good at sticking together is because they contain proteins, which have unique properties that can be harnessed during cooking. Proteins set (or go solid) at about 143°F (62°C), but remain liquid up until that temperature. In baking, the proteins provide leavening and structure because the heat causes them to solidify. You can get great leavening power when you use beaten egg whites; the egg whites whip up and trap the air thanks to their proteins. You can see this work in Lisa's summer sponge cake and Devan's winter pavlova. And, there are so many other applications of creamy egg whites—take the foamy finish to a classic whiskey sour, for example.
Kitchen chemistry, part 2: Egg yolks
The egg yolks, in particular, have a mixture of fat and certain proteins that help to give desserts a soft and creamy consistency. These include silky crema catalana or luxurious crème brûlée, both of which are wonderfully smooth but firm enough not to melt. A bit of care is needed when making recipes like these: To get a super creamy consistency, you don’t want to overheat the eggs. If you do, they will set too much and the consistency will be more like scrambled eggs than custard. Practice makes perfect!
Kitchen chemistry, part 3: Emulsifying with egg yolks
Another great feature of our pantry hero is that they can stabilize emulsions. Without wanting to dive into kitchen chemistry for too long, this basically means that the lecithin found in egg yolks allows a mixture of fat and aqueous liquids to combine. Perhaps the most famous emulsion from the kitchen? Mayonnaise! And even in homemade ice cream, egg yolks help keep the watery and fatty components of the ingredients well combined.
Exciting new egg recipes to try
Last but not least, eggs can take on an incredible range of consistencies if you know how to prepare them: they can be soft-boiled, poached (for topping eggs Benedict and more), hard-boiled (like in egg salad), or fried until the edges are crispy. These options you know, but have you heard of creamy tornado omelettes, fluffy egg clouds, or wobbly steamed eggs? Hanna explains these recipes and more in her new video, in which she progresses in difficulty from the very simplest eggs-citing egg option—a cleverly prepared one-pan egg sandwich which you might already have seen around the internet to the complicated tornado omelette (aka omurice), which really puts her to the test, so watch (and learn from) for yourself!
How to make a cloud omelette
For the fluffy consistency unique to the cloud omelette (similar to the soufflé omelette), Hanna makes use of beaten egg whites. This makes the omelette look like a little cloud you can eat for breakfast. Even though we've always been told not to play with our food, who could resist this?
How to make coddled eggs with “soldiers”
If you've ever traveled to the UK, you may already be familiar with coddled eggs. For this, eggs are placed in a buttered, sealable container called "egg coddlers" and cooked gently in a water bath. Because the egg is cooked slowly at a low temperature, it’s much more soft and tender than a typical boiled egg and can be mixed with flavorful ingredients such as ham or herbs while it’s cooking. It is often eaten with "soldiers" (toasted bread cut into strips) for dipping.
How to make steamed eggs
Steamed eggs are a popular, quick dish eaten throughout China. Prepared this way, the eggs are very soft and creamy, similar to an egg custard, but are most often served savory. To get the right consistency, the eggs are first mixed with water and then steamed.
What is a tornado omelette and how do you make it?
A tornado omelette or omurice, is a special version of an omelette eaten mainly in Japan and South Korea over rice. To make one, you’ll need a special technique (and maybe a few practice sessions), which Hanna walks you through in the video. Basically, whisked eggs are carefully pulled in opposite directions with two chopsticks while frying, so that you end up with a golden "tornado" in the pan. Tricky, yes, but the shiny end result is truly a feast for the eyes...and the palate.
Even more egg recipes!
– Tomato and egg noodle soup
– Deviled eggs
– Herby French omelette
– Springy egg salad with asparagus
– Jammy eggs and kale in turmeric-coconut gravy
– Orecchiette with sweet corn, crispy bacon, and soft eggs
– Homemade Hollandaise
– White asparagus with ham and Béarnaise sauce
– Homemade eggnog
– Rhubarb meringue cake
Published on October 18, 2021