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?