I know you’ll think I’ve really flipped out over this one, but I was reading MFK Fisher’s hilarious essay ‘How Not To Cook An Egg’ (in Love in a dish and other pieces) and it occurred to me that I had never fried an egg. I remember my dad making them occasionally for breakfast when I was a child, but I’ve never been that keen on eggy dishes. In fact, I never really fancied them at all until I was pregnant and eating a runny egg yolk was seen as akin to shooting up in the toilets.
Fisher’s piece on eggs is a wonderful piece of writing, with all sorts of historical fact (and fiction) and useful information – such as the method for ‘frying’ an egg that I’ll detail below. But above all I love it because it begins with this line:
Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg until it is broken.
Fried Eggs a la MFK Fisher
Fisher says that a biochemist once told her that every minute an egg is cooked makes it take three hours longer to digest. Whether this is true or not, it makes sense to me for eggs to be as lightly cooked as possible. Don’t make me tell you about the powdery, sulphur-laden boiled eggs of boarding school lunches, I couldn’t stand to relive them.
Fisher calls this method “a compromise” – I call it quick and foolproof.
The freshest, most free-range eggs you can get, at room temperature
Heat a shallow, heavy pan and drop in a knob of butter and a drop of oil. Heat until it is sizzling, then break in an egg or two. Clamp a lid on tightly, turn off the heat and leave for three minutes. When the time is up, slip the egg(s) onto a slice of freshly made toast. The eggs will be “tender and firm and very good”.
How do you fry eggs?
Yes! Like that, actually! Although sometimes I leave it on the heat a bit longer. But I think letting it cool in the pan means they don't stick as much either (that and having the oil hot when you crack the egg in. I also sprinkle salt on them right after I've cracked them.
going have to try that method, I guess from the lid going on you get an all around heat as well as directional, cooking the egg a bit faster.
I can't remember the last time I fried an egg, usually poach or scrambled.
Good to see things like that.What I do when I fry eggs I put a little bit of salt in the frying pan,sure they won't stick:)
There are two things H F-W won't eat: McDonalds, and a runny egg.
I fell in love with fried eggs at birth, mostly because my Dad is an old school Englishman who could spend the rest of his life in a greasy spoon, packet of fags at his side. But I REALLY fell in love with fried eggs somewhere in some tiny village in Cambodia where a food cart had stopped. We ate noodles topped with fried egg and a splash of soy sauce. Gastronomical genius. I love it when the edges of the white are crispy. Oh, it's heaven. But runny on top is just wrong, and I often flip my egg for about three seconds, no more. A few years ago, Ruth Pretty actually had a recipe for frying eggs in Indulgence!
I love that quote about the egg …
What a lovely post! I pretty much eat 2 fried eggs for breakfast everyday. I simply fry them in olive oil with a hot hot pan which is turned down once the egg drops in. The Viking likes his over-easy and I like mine sunny side up. The best stuff in the world!
We like to eat them for weekend breakfast (if we're not having your great aunt's pikelets) with Persian flat-bread, natural yoghurt and red salad onions…sounds like a weird combination but we love it…
Oh i love a fried egg on toast…I'm more of an easy over kinda girl!! I'll try the lid trick out!!
I always have to turn my eggs – just for a few seconds as I can't stand any little bit of white to still be translucent – but maybe this method with the lid would also work – I'll try and remember it.
there's something just so sexy about an oozing egg yolk i feel. hence that simple fried egg looks real good. so does soft boiled eggs, poached eggs etc.
Not a fan of eggs at all, also due to childhood trauma. They are rather nice in cakes though.
I wonder if MKF Fisher's method only works on an electric burner? There is a lot more residual heat than on a gas stove. What kind to you use?
It's nice to discover you from the Fresh from the Oven group. 🙂