The Runny Egg Series

Who doesn’t like a runny egg?! It’s the ultimate comfort food and it’s good any way you prepare it, from the healthy poached egg to the wicked deep fried bull’s eye egg. That’s my translation of telur mata kerbau, a fried egg with a soft yolk that is usually served with spicy sambal on coconut rice. One of the true great traditional Malaysian breakfasts. My parents were not great egg lovers, apart from the odd soft boiled, so I think I got my first lesson in egg from a nun. Yes, a nun.

My brother and I were staying at a monastery for a week. I can’t for the life of me remember why. It can’t have been to find God as my parents weren’t sure there was any point looking. Be that as it may, we were there, in this huge, ancient monastery, getting up at the crack of dawn to attend first mass. As dinner the previous evening was served at 6pm, there was a fair bit of fainting among the ranks of hungry and tired children. And that is when the nun in our story (sorry I have forgotten your name) said that surely God would allow little children to be fed an egg before mass and would anyone like to help her make the eggs in the morning. Always the precocious little brat, I volunteered.

Kitchen at Kloster Bebenhausen in Germany

Now if you imagine we were boiling three dozen eggs to a grey ringed death, you are very much mistaken. In the cavernous depths of the monastery kitchens, The Nun grabbed a copper pan the size of Australia, added a pound of butter to it while I was cracking and beating seventy-two eggs. She brought the butter to a foaming great wave and just when the edges started to turn brown, she poured the beaten eggs into it and whisk them quickly until all that beurre noisette had been incorporated. She then turned down the raging heat from the black range, grabbed a wooden spoon and stirred like, well… the devil. And when I thought the eggs were still rather uncooked, she stopped, took the pan off the range, gave the eggs another minute’s stir, poured them into a big, deep bowl, sighed, held up an egg, looked at me and said: “The Lord has given us the most wonderful things to eat and the duty to prepare them well!”

I still remember this scramble as the best egg I have ever eaten. Fois gras laden, meat glaze drizzled, two temperature eggs make way for this 72 egg scramble. I am not sure whether her repertoire extended beyond scrambled eggs, because we made the very same thing every day. Until I saw this nun add butter to the eggs, I had never imagined that one could add such a huge amount of butter to eggs, but then of course I was too inexperienced to know that one can pour a litre of oil into a single egg yolk and call it Mayonnaise.

I have revisited this scrambled egg version and at first, I got it entirely wrong. I completely miscalculated. I added 30g of butter to 2 eggs, which at 60g weight per egg egg is 25% of the egg weight. 72 eggs however weigh 4,320g and a pound of butter would be less than 12%. I should have used half the butter. I tried it again and lo and behold; There was my perfect scramble!

The Perfect Scrambled Egg

  • 2 fresh eggs
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • a light sprinkling of white pepper
  • 12g butter
  • a deep, rather than flat bowl

Crack your eggs into a bowl, add the salt and pepper and whisk the eggs with a fork until they are foaming just a little. Melt the butter in a pan and when it turns slightly brown, turn the heat down to low and add the eggs. Use a wooden spoon to stir like crazy until the eggs are just starting to set. Pour into a preheated bowl (you do this by pouring hot water into the bowl and then drying it BEFORE you start on the eggs). Leave the scramble in the bowl for a minute before tugging in.

If you look at the menu on top and click on All the Recipes, you will find a category called “The Runny Egg Series”, which will bring you straight to all things runny egg I wrote about and will write about.

Before I leave you for the day, I have to bring up the one egg question on everyone’s chin: Are eggs bad for you? According to ever changing science (who, need I remind you, told us for years to eat margarine) we are supposed to eat no more than one egg a day. I ask you: ONE egg a day?? Who’s ever eaten a ONE egg omelette??? Sausages and ONE fried egg???? “Oh, okay then, I’ll have that boiled egg with mayo and limit myself to just the one. But can I have a slice of cake after that?” For more elucidation of the subject, here is the day’s long read:

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