“You know what you do really, really well, sweetheart?” the hubby said to me one evening not long ago, as we sat next to each other at our kitchen table, chatting while cradling glasses of wine.
“You really know how to boil a good egg.”
God, that man really knows how to get my engines going.
I have loved a good hard-boiled egg ever since my poorest student days in college. Even today, I buy an extra dozen of eggs at the grocery store every once in awhile and boil them all at once to store in the fridge. In the mornings over breakfast, the kids love cracking the shells and peeling them studiously, flake by flake. I love them in noodle broths, as a final gooey flourish to an already comforting dish. I love them next to my toast, bursting open with a pinch of my fork and soaking my bread with golden rivulets of shimmering yolk. I love them so much that over lunch with a friend last month at Tanpopo Ramen House, I squealed when the shoyu ramen was topped with a halved hard-boiled egg. The yolk was almost gelatinous. “It’s like a jogging — not runny — egg!” I clapped my hands. People stared. I did not care.
My friend then introduced me to a pictorial chart about boiling eggs that’s basically changed my life in the month since I’ve been using it. Lately I’ve made eggs with all different boiling times, but my favorite — my absolute favorite — has to be the eight-minute egg. The white emerges with a springy bounce, and the yolk is a perfect pitch between thick ooze and just-cooked chalkiness. The other day I put them in a very easy baby spinach salad topped with chunks of tomato and slices of red onion and swirled with my “house” mustard vinaigrette. The result was pure magic.
- 6 cups loosely packed baby spinach, washed
- 4 eggs
- ½ red onion, sliced thinly (about 1 cup)
- 1 large beefsteak tomato or 2-3 plum tomatoes, quartered
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon good Dijon mustard
- juice from 1 lemon
- ½ cup good olive oil
- Place eggs in a small saucepan and fill with cold tap water so that the water level is about 1 inch higher than the tops of the eggs. Remove eggs and set aside.
- Bring water to boil over high heat. Using a slotted spoon, gently lower the eggs into the water and boil for exactly 8 minutes.
- While the eggs are boiling, prepare an ice bath with water and at least 1 cup of ice and set next to the stove.
- When the eggs are ready, remove them with the slotted spoon, quickly but one at a time and place gently into the ice bath. Let the eggs cool in the ice bath for at least 5 minutes.
- While the eggs are cooling, toss together the spinach, onion and tomatoes in a large bowl.
- In a small bowl, stir together the garlic, dijon mustard and lemon until well blended. Pour the olive oil over the mixture in a steady stream, whisking rapidly until a shimmering dressing comes together.
- Toss the dressing with the spinach salad.
- Remove the eggs from the ice bath and spread out two layers of paper towels. Crack the eggs all over on a hard surface until the shell begins to separate on its own from the eggs. Remove the shells and blot the eggs dry on the paper towels.
- Slice the eggs in half lengthwise and place on top of the salad. Serve immediately.