Whatever happened to the soft-boiled egg? Poached and fried eggs have pushed it to the sidelines. But there’s really nothing simpler. The soft-boiled egg was important enough to spawn an industry of cutsy eggcups to hold the hot shells, egg scissors to slice off the tops, and fanciful egg timers to reach the perfect consistency—all fun, but not essential—so it’s high time you rediscovered its delights, accoutrements or not. Here are five tips for perfection:
- Stick A Pin in It: Soft-boiled eggs can crack easily. Although not everyone agrees, I’ve found it helpful to make a tiny hole with a pushpin in the wider end of the egg, before submerging it in the hot water.
- Go Gently: Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a pot, then turn it down to a simmer before you lower your egg—in the shell and cradled in a slotted spoon—into the water.
- Rumble Not: Cook the egg at a slow simmer; you should see a few bubbles rise to the surface, but not enough to hear the shell knocking against the bottom of the pan.
- Don’t Forgetaboutit: Use a regular kitchen timer, not an adorable flea market find. Gently cooked eggs take longer. Figure on 5 to 6 minutes for a runny yolk, 7 to 8 for barely set. And transfer it to a bowl of cold water for 1 minute to stop the cooking.
- Soldier On: Have ready buttered toast, cut into strips—toast soldiers—for dipping into the runny yolk. Or take a tip from my father, who scooped the egg into a tea cup, added butter and pieces of soft bread, and mooshed it altogether.