Guide to Sous Vide Eggs | The Food Lab

Let's get cracking with the matter at hand.

9/19/2021 3:00:00 PM

Let's get cracking with the matter at hand.

Everything you need to know about using a temperature-controlled water bath to cook eggs.

Yolk:Ever-so-slightly thicker than raw.Sous-Vide Egg Cooked to 150°F (65.6°C)Another big jump here! Those egg yolks have gone from completely liquid to a soft, malleable texture that easily holds its shape.Loose white:Watery with coagulated chunks of protein.

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Tight white:Completely opaque, firm enough to break along fault lines when you cut it with a spoon.Yolk:very tender but malleable and firm enough to hold its shape when cut in half.Sous-Vide Egg Cooked to 155°F (68.3°C)At this stage, the yolks have caught up with the whites in terms of firmness—you can easily slide a spoon or knife into the whites, but the yolks offer a bit of resistance and hold their shape much better. This is my least favorite egg temperature.

Loose white:Watery with coagulated chunks of protein.Tight white:Opaque and firm, but still tender.Yolk:Fudge-like in texture. Malleable, but starting to slightly crack.Sous-Vide Egg Cooked to 160°F (71.1°C)Finally, at the 160°F mark the loose whites have been heated sufficiently to coagulate completely leaving no watery liquid phase within the shell.

Loose white:Solid but tender, it tends to peel away from the tight white in a distinct layer.Tight white:Opaque and firm, but still tender.Yolk:Completely firm and still malleable, but with a tendency to crack with pressed or cut.Sous-Vide Egg Cooked to 165°F (73.9°C)

If hard-boiled is how you like your eggs, then a 165°F sous-vide egg should do you well. This is the ideal temperature for an egg salad that has distinct chunks of tender, non-rubbery egg.Loose white:Opaque and firm, but still tender.Tight white:

Opaque and firm, but still tender.Yolk:Completely firm but still moist and not at all powdery. It crumbles easily along fault lines.And if you like your eggs even more well done than that, then I can only surmise that you are either a) my wife or b) somebody with equally strange taste.

Timing Matters With Sous-Vide Eggs!So we've looked at temperatures, and for a long time I believed that with eggs, that was the only thing that really mattered. That is, until I had a chat withCésar Vega, an expert in the science of dairy products. His assertion was that since many of these gelling reactions take place relatively slowly, simply bringing an egg up to equilibrium temperature will not actually take it to its maximum thickness.

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So I cooked eggs at each of these temperatures for times ranging from 45 minutes to 2 hours. The testing showed that indeed timing does matter, though the most noticeable effects are with the egg yolks. For instance, an egg cooked at 145°F for 45 minutes will have a barely set white and a completely liquid yolk. Take that up to 2 hours and the whites will still be just about the same, but the yolk will have thickened to the point where it holds its shape as well as, say, a washed up jelly-fish.

Check this out:Egg Cooked Sous Vide at 145°F for 45 MinutesRaw yolk that easily mixes with a white that is barely set, but can be broken up with a spoon. Pretty, right? This is the type of eggs that the Japanese callonsen tamago, or"hot spring eggs." Given a hot spring of the right temperature, you can drop a half dozen eggs in as soon as you wake up and have a breakfast of soft cooked eggs waiting for you when you get back from your morning jog.*

*This makes the assumption that you a) live in Japan, b) live near a hot spring, and c) take morning jogs that last at least 45 minutes and no more than an hour and a half.Egg Cooked Sous Vide at 145°F for 1 HourSlightly thicker yolk that holds peaks for about five seconds when you pour it off of a spoon.

Egg Cooked Sous Vide at 145°F for 1 1/2 HoursWhites that are ever-so-slightly firmer than 45 minutes eggs (though barely distinguishable), and yolks that are as thick as tender pudding.Egg Cooked Sous Vide at 145°F for 2 HoursI couldn't tell a difference between the 1.5 hour whites and the 2 hours whites. Yolks at this stage are solid enough that you can pile them up in a bowl and let them sit for a good half hour and still distinguish individual lumps. Gloppy is the word I'd use.

How to Make Sous-Vide EggsSo now that we've seen how temperature and time affect the various parts inside an egg, we can easily poach or soft boil eggs to exactly the texture we'd like them to be, right?Well yes, if you're content to serve sous-vide eggs out of the shell as-is. But what if we want to strive for something with more textural contrast? Something with a slightly more traditional appearance (albeit with improved texture control)

A perfect poached egg should have a distinct layer of egg white around the exterior that is firmer than the rest of the egg. A sort of skin, if you will. Similarly, soft boiled eggs should have whites that are firm around the edges—firm enough that they hold their shape when you peel the eggs—but yolks that are completely liquid. How do we achieve these effects?

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Perfect Sous-Vide Poached EggsOnce we've gotten our tender-and-barely-set 145°F 45-minute eggs, the only thing we need to do to convert them into bona-fide poached eggs is to, well, poach them. This is a technique I first saw employed by Nick Anderer, chef at New York's Maialino.

Here's how you do it.Step 1: CrackStart by cooking the egg to the desired degree of tenderness. I prefer mine at 143 to 145°F for 45 minutes. At this stage, you can let the egg rest at 130°F indefinitely until ready to serve, or even refrigerate it overnight before proceeding with the rest of the steps.

To remove it from the shell, crack the large end of the shell on a flat surface, then carefully peel away a window with your fingertips while still holding the egg with your other hand. The watery, loose white will begin to drip out. This is ok. You won't be need that part.

Step 2: DumpGently flip the egg out into a bowl. Out should come a perfectly egg-shaped object consisting of the gelled soft white and yolk, surrounded by the watery, barely-set loose white. Our goal is to leave that loose white behind.Step 3: Separate

To do this, I use a perforated spoon to carefully lift the eggs before dumping the loose whites out.Step 4: SlipFrom here, the eggs get slipped into a pot of water that is just below a simmer. They should immediately start to set up around the outside.

Step 5: PoachSwirl the water in the pan occasionally to make sure the eggs aren'y sticking to the bottom and becoming flat on one side. Since the eggs are already mostly set, this is not as big a problem as it is when poaching raw eggs. The eggs need only about a minute to develop a skin.

Step 6: DrainFinally, fish out the egg with the perforated spoon. What you end up with is the platonic ideal of a poached egg. Ivory white and opaque with a perfect egg shape and a tender outer skin that just barely holds in the liquid contents inside. Your eggs Benedict will never be the same.

The best part? Once cooked, you can chill the eggs in an ice bath and store them in water in the refrigerator for up to a few days. To serve them, just submerge them in warm (130 to 140°F water) for ten minutes or so and they're as good as fresh.

I use these eggs as the foundation for allsortsof dishes. Need a way to turn those sautéed vegetables or that salad into a meal? A perfect poached egg will do the trick. (Stay tuned until tomorrow for a recipe for the corn, chorizo, and basil dish you see above).

Perfect Sous-Vide Soft-Boiled EggsI'm a fan of the three-minute boiled egg, but it's not perfect. Because of the high temperature of cooking, at three minutes the exterior whites are cooked, but the inner layers of white are still barely cooked and jelly like, while the yolk remains cold. Wouldn't it be nice to have that firm outer white with a tender inner white and a yolk that is warm all the way through?

Sous-vide methods can help fix these minor imperfections and also make the process entirely foolproof.Because the slower and more gently you cook the longer it takes for physical changes to take place, with lower temperatures, you have quite a large window for perfection with eggs. Alex Talbot and Aki Kamozawa take advantage of this fact in their great first book

Ideas in Foodin their recipe for Thirteen-Minute Onsen Eggs (page 139). By cooking eggs for 13 minutes at 167°F, you eliminate the need for the seconds-accurate timing you'd need with boiling or simmering water.The slightly higher temperature also builds in a temperature gradient—the whites get hotter than the yolks. Thus you end up with an egg with a yolk that is just barely beginning to thicken and a white that is relatively firm. With this method, the thin white will not thicken completely and will drop away easily from firm tight white.

Pretty, right?But what if you want a soft boiled egg that you can serve all fancy-style in an egg cup, in the half shell? For that, we need a method that allows us to not only cook the interior perfectly, but one that also allows us to peel the eggs.Stick It To 'Em

You might have noticed in the photos above that at the point in which the loose white begins to finally firm up—between 155° and 160°F—that a curious thing happens: the surface of the egg begins to get cratered and broken due to the white sticking to the inner membrane of the egg shell during peeling.

We've certainly all seenthishappen before, right?"Eggs will peel exactly how they want to peel and nothing you do will change that." Read more: Serious Eats »

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