They’re a breakfast staple – and yet so many of us differ n how we like them cooked. Should they be soft or hard? With added liquid or without? And what truly is the best heat to cook them on. This week, I’m sharing with you my top tips to please all the scrambled egg lovers in your life. So, without further ado, let’s get started…
Pre-salting – yes or no?
Perhaps the biggest thing some people get wrong about scrambled eggs is when to add the salt. There’s a common belief that salting the eggs in advance of cooking makes them watery or tough—some folks even refuse to add salt until after the eggs have cooked. It’s easy to see why – if you add salt to beaten eggs and let them sit for even a few minutes, and the eggs turn a darker shade of orange, become slightly translucent, and appear to be thinner than before. It appears that the salt is doing undesirable things to the eggs. But don’t be fooled!
After testing this, I’ve actually found that pre-salting is beneficial. In fact, it helps the eggs retain their moisture and tenderness. To put it as simply as possible, salt acts as a buffer between the proteins in the eggs, preventing them from linking as tightly as they otherwise would during cooking. The tighter they link, the more water they push out and the tougher they become, so this buffering property of salt helps to mitigate some of that. I’m not saying it’s worth pre-salting your eggs hours in advance, but I’d definitely recommend adding salt before you cook your scrambled eggs.
Should you add any liquid?
Another big question for all scrambled eggs – should you add any liquid? It’s pretty common to add a splash of milk or cream to the beaten eggs before scrambling, so I thought it would be fun to test it out.What I found basically corresponds to expectations: as the volume of added liquid in the eggs goes up, the eggs themselves become softer and moister. At the same time, as the fat content of the liquid goes up, the eggs become richer and firmer. So, three tablespoons of cream per three eggs will be firmer than eggs made with three tablespoons of water, but both batches will be softer and moister than eggs made with one tablespoon of either cream or water.
Overall, I’d consider liquid add-ins a way to modify the texture, flavour, and moisture level of the eggs, though they’re much less important than the cooking method itself.
How should you scramble your eggs?
So now we get to the most important decision when scrambling eggs: the scrambling technique itself. There are endless possible variations, but I’m going to break it down into three overarching groups: very soft and loose eggs with barely perceptible curds – the type you’d find in a high-end Frenchrestaurant; soft-scrambled eggs with small, delicate curds; and dry, fluffy eggs with large curds.
For the French-style eggs, constant whipping is key. The goal of the constant whisking is to break up the curds as soon as they form; the whisk’s multiple wires help with this, slicing through the eggs over and over as they cook. If done properly, it’s a slow, boring process, at times leaving you to wonder if the eggs are cooking at all. The whisking has another effect: It makes the eggs less fluffy. Through whisking, bubbles are repeatedly broken and disturbed, allowing the gas and water vapour to escape. The low heat of this method also reduces fluffiness, since the eggs never get hot enough for the gas and water vapour to expand the way they would under high heat.
You’re looking at getting your eggs to thicken to a custardy texture with tiny curds. They’re not just able to be spooned; they’re actually still pourable—the overall effect is very luxurious, though. Maybe not one you’d want to eat in big batches, but it’s a great option for small portions or served alongside decadent toppers such as lobster.
Soft-scrambled eggs are perhaps the most popular way to go. Once again, we work over low heat, though it’s okay if it’s a little more intense than the barely-there heat of the French eggs. And, once again, we stir constantly, or at least very, very frequently. We still want to break up the curds as they form to prevent them from becoming big and fluffy, but we don’t need to pulverize them quite as much as in the fancy French version.The resulting eggs are creamy and moist, but not wet or runny.
Fluffy eggs are a classic and the way to go if you like your eggs a little bit harder. If this is your chosen scramble, start by melting butter in a non-stick skillet. Medium-high to high heat is our best bet here.Once again, we scramble with a silicone spatula, though this time it’s okay if we don’t break the curds up as much. Big, fluffy sheets should start forming pretty quickly on the bottom of the pan.From there, we just keep cooking, stirring those curds, until the last traces of wetness disappear.The eggs come out drier – though hopefully not dry – with curds that don’t necessarily all stick together. They should be fluffy, with a springy bite.
No matter how you like your scrambled eggs, these techniques and tips are sure to put you on the right track. You’ll get perfect eggs every time in no time at all!