How to Boil Water: Fried eggs with crispy edges

Illustration for "How to boil water" series; frying eggs.
(Caroline Marks / For The Times)

With so many of you having to stay home and cook for the first time — ever or more than you have in a long time — we get that it can be overwhelming to have to cook all your meals from scratch. So we’re here to get you started.

Each weekday, we’re going to post a new skill here and go in detail about how to do it — a resource for cooking basics so you can get food on the table and get through this.

A series of simple tutorials for making some basic recipes at home.

March 26, 2020


Lesson 14: Crackly Fried Eggs With Runny Yolks
I taught my daughters how to fry eggs the same way my dad taught me — in ripping hot oil until the edges of the whites crisp and brown like a potato chip while the yolk stays runny. It wasn’t until my time in high-end French kitchens that I learned the “proper” way to “fry” an egg is gently in simmering butter for a soft, floppy white and barely gelled yolk.

But the right way to do things in a kitchen is relative, so this is a lesson in the former — an egg with texture and a charred, smoky flavor that can be a meal any time of day on its own or slid over anything you’re eating to add richness and crunch.

Start by taking your egg out of the fridge. It’ll fry better when it has a minute to lose its chill. Get your gear ready: a small bowl; a small, well-seasoned cast iron or carbon steel skillet or nonstick pan; a spatula (silicone if using a nonstick pan); a serving plate.

Turn on your hood and crack open a window. Heat your skillet over medium-high heat while you gather the oil, salt and pepper. Give the egg a solid tap against the counter, then crack it into the bowl — this ensures no broken yolks or bits of shell.

Add enough oil to the pan to coat the bottom and wait until you see and smell a wisp of smoke, 10 to 15 seconds. Slide the egg into the hot oil, holding the lip of the bowl close to the oil to prevent spattering. The egg should start bubbling immediately. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and swirl the pan so that some of the hot oil runs over the egg. This will help cook the top of the white. As soon as the edges are browned and the white opaque, carefully slide the spatula under the egg and transfer it to the plate. If you prefer a less runny yolk, keep the egg in the pan until it’s as firm as you like. If you’re wary of the amount of oil, dab off excess gently with a paper towel.

However you eat it — with toast, potatoes, rice, hot sauce — eat it hot, swiping crunchy-edge whites in silky yolk. And if you want another, you can have it all again in a minute.

Hou Bao Daan: Hong Kong-Style Fried Eggs

Time5 minutes
YieldsServes 1