Random Reviews

"How to Boil an Egg" review

At the ready!

Soldiers? check. Egg Cup? check.
Beer? erm... check.

We all have to face up to this. Boiling an egg isn't easy. Everyone has their own ideas to start with, and this is where it goes wrong. What the soft boiled egg eating public need is a solid methodology, that can be applied to a variety of situations.

Science has come up with an answer, but the practical application of it is absurd. I hope for his own sake that guy (for it has to be a guy) doesn't really have a piece of knotted string for measuring eggs with.

So that's where Tuition Fees go. It's a good job Cookery Corner's here then really isn't it. For this is a review of the varying methods on offer, from Auntie Delia to Uncle Jamie, and a load of bonkers rubbish in between. Then perhaps I'll tell you how it's done. One day. Ah it's all a facade isn't it.

Still to add some creedence I've given each method a rating based on my qualitative assesment, taking into account ease of execution, quality of result and how lucky I was to produce anything edible at all at the end of the process.


Egg in the pan

Egg in a pan

Egg Method 1

Yolky goodness. Well done Delia

Delia Smith's Soft Boiled Egg Method 1

In some ways, Delia Smith was my first culinary love. Her word was gospel to me. This was the first bone fide method I ever used to boil an egg. It's called, originally enough, Method 1.

Right, first up we need to boil the water. Well actually simmering is the word she used- I need enough water so they are half an inch under. The difference is unclear to me, but we'll skip over that. OK immerse the eggs in the water for exactly 1 minute, whilst simmering. That's easy... then, remove them from the heat, cover the pan and wait for 6-7 minutes, depending on how you like your egg.

I know this sounds overly complex and convoluted, but I like this method for two reasons:

1) The only variable not covered by it is the size of the egg and height above sea level. This means, with a medium egg anywhere other than mexico city, it's pretty foolproof.
2) It tastes better. That's because you shouldn't overheat the white or it goes chewy. Ask the science guys if you don't believe me (yes, them again).

I removed the egg after 6 minutes and 40 seconds, and I reckon you could get away with less if you like it really gooey. Overall the results were very tasty. I'd use this method again and again, if only I could be bothered to go through the rigmarole. This method is for old people who get up at 6am every day, or guys who are trying to impress a girl the morning after. Delia must either have a whole lot of time on her hands, or a whole lot of lads in her bed.

But then maybe I'm being cynical. She does this for a living I suppose.

Overall Effectiveness: Let's be avin' yeearrghh

Method 2 Egg

It was a struggle to get that
little soldier in there.

Delia Smith's Soft Boiled Egg Method 2

Delia's second method I'm not so keen on. It involves putting the egg in cold water, and then bringing it to the boil for about 4 minutes if you like a nice soft creamny yolk. And I certainly do.

The problem is there are plenty of variables. The size of your pan. The hotness of your hob. Gas or Electric. Prevailing wind. It was with some trepidation I set off on leg two of my egg odyssey. I even managed to recruit a further volunteer.

Whilst this should in theory be a less rigorous process, it involves a lot of pan watching as it needs to be brought to the simmer before you start the timer. I do sometimes wonder if Delia realises how people live in the real world. Bless her, it'd be lovely if I could spend my weekends watching a pan boil, but most of us have HANGOVERS. It's too much to deal with.

What's more, the results are tough to predict. 4 minutes was a bit hard. A bit like UN troops in the Congo, the little soldiers had limited freedom of entry, and the runniness barely lasted past the first dip (which may be less true of UN troops in the Congo). Not a winner.

Overall Effectiveness: Anticlimax

Jamie Oliver

Jamie Oliver, yesterday. Pukka, etc

Jamie Oliver's method (unofficial)

Jamie Oliver doesn't appear to have paid much attention to Boiled egg cooking, so I took this from another recipe of his involving boiled eggs. I assume this is how he does it for him and Jools, the morning after a hard late night shop at Sainsbury's.

It's dead simple though. Boil the water, whack the egg in the pan, wait four minutes and bosh there it is, a lovely egg. So simple, a sprig of parsley etc etc.

This method is widely used I think. I thought the white might have been a bit runny, but my egg loving assistant assured me it wouldn't kill me, and indeed scoffed most of it. Once you get through the initial sense of revoltion it is rather nice; a bit like paying for sex with a dirty old granny dressed in rubber you know it's wrong but you can't help enjoying it.

Overall Effectiveness: Food Poisoning-tastic

Hugh's Egg

This isn't fun any more

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Method
(from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, The Movie)

Following an extensive seach of the web, I can only conclude that Ainsley doesn't have a method. Keith Floyd doesn't have a method. Even Worrell-Thompson doesn't have a method.

So I'm left with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

I didn't even know he was a chef until I saw this recipe. I thought he was an extra from Lovejoy, or something.

Anyway, his method is almost identical to Delia's Method 2. It is superior in that it specifies the use of a small pan, which obviously reduces initial boiling time. This is the level of specific USEFUL methodological information that I think almost all amateur recipe followers would be glad of. Well done Hugh.

It still didn't work though. Although runnier than Delia's Method 2, the egg still produces insufficient depth of dippiness, leading to what I can only describe as premature use of the spoon. Whilst trying to remain objective, your reviewer at this point had become pretty sick of eggs as well, it has to be said.

Still objectivity rules. 3rd place so far for the worthy Hugh.

Overall Effectiveness: Forgettable

Random Method


Recipe I got off a Random Blog

This one looked really intriguing, as if somehow during my extensive search of google for the finest exponents of soft boiling eggs I had stumbled upon some unique and not-quite-lost-forever piece of cooking lore.

The idea is that once a pan has boiled, you can slip an egg into the cooling water and wander off for 30 minutes plus, to wax your moustache or something, and it will come out perfect, every time, when you get back to it.

The idea had appeal, so I tried it. Boiled the water, stuck the egg in, cleaned the kitchen would you belive it.

And as I prised the egg form the still quite warm water with my now wrinkled hands, I had a longing hope that the promised land laid within that shell (if you pardon the pun).

In actual fact, this is the worst way of cooking a soft boiled egg I have ever seen. The only way I can ever imagine it working is if I was attempting to boil a Pterodactyl egg. Maybe the person who posted this lives in a cabin on Everest, at which altitude the temperature of boiling water is significantly lower and thus the result of their recipe won't be cooked to high buggery.

Either way, even my now stale army of stiffening soldiers were firmly repulsed by the results of this particular method. Apart from the one in the picture which I jammed right in there.

Overall Effectiveness: Chewy. And I don't mean the furry one off Star Wars.