You probably have made soft-boiled eggs for breakfast once in a while. Here is a simpler and more reliable way to get perfect eggs, along with some serving suggestions.
We have found that you can cook a number of eggs at once in a vegetable steamer basket, instead of soft-boiled eggs? Yep, wait and see.
To cook the eggs, let them sit out of your refrigerator for 5 minutes or so, so they aren’t ice cold. Then, put a vegetable steamer basket in a saucepan and fill the pan with water so the water level is just below the basket. Bring the water to a boil and reduce it to a simmer. This only takes a minute or so, because there isn’t much water in the pan.
Using a slotted spoon or other long handled spoon, quickly lower the eggs into the basket, and cover the pan. Let them cook for 6 ½ minutes. Then run cold water into the pan, drain and run in cold water again to stop the eggs from over cooking. Don’t worry, they’ll still be plenty warm.
Now is where international opinions diverge. If you are American, you probably put the soft-boiled eggs in a bowl with some toast, cut them open and dig out the eggs with a spoon, and eat them right away.
If you are British or Australian, or have immediate ancestors who are, you probably serve your soft boiled eggs in egg cups. The outrage Brits and Oz people feel about vulgar American soft-boiled eggs can be absorbed here, here and here. Their point seems to be “Do you just let the eggs roll around on your plate?” and “Where does the drippy yolk end up?”
In the British approach, you put the just cooked egg in an egg cup, cut off the top, and serve the cup on a plate with strips of toast (called “soldiers”) or toast points. No crusts here, of course. We found a few egg cups around.
Our neighbor brought us one made for Fanny Farmer in the 1940s, that originally came with a chocolate egg in it. We also found a nice porcelain one that will hold a conventional hen’s egg, or in the larger part of the base, a duck’s egg. In fact, if you turn the egg cup over, there is small cup in the base that might hold a quail’s egg. We also found that there are a number of egg cups on Amazon including 4 plastic ones for about $10.
Egg cups go back as far as 3 CE, where they were found in the ruins of Pompeii, but were distinctly for the ruling classes, until the advent of the railroads, when both British and American shops along railroad lines sold souvenir egg cups at each stop. There were also sterling silver egg cups, intended to be baby gifts, but weren’t too practical as the sulfur in the egg tarnished the silver.
There is also a cute video from Martha Stewart showing a huge variety of egg cups. Apparently they are seriously collectable.
So, how do you open this egg? Experienced egg cup users just flick the top of the egg with a butter knife and cut it open. You can also get an “egg topper,” that will score the top of the egg when you pull on the handle and let go. It may or may not take the top off, but once it is scored, you can lift it off easily. So here they are, with eggs in the cups. And we’ll have to admit, they do look elegant.
Peeling the eggs
Now, one of the points of the egg cup is to hold the shell still, so you can eat the egg conveniently. But, what about peeling the just-cooked egg and serving it in a bowl with soldiers or toast points? If you cook the eggs in a steamer as we did, you will find that you can easily peel them under cold running water, and still have a warm egg to eat with your toast.
But, the ultimate solution could be to put those warm, peeled eggs back into the egg cups and eat them that way, dipping toast into the warm yolk. We tried that, and they were delicious!