Photo Credit: John Lodder
Eggs were a tricky one for me for a few reasons. To get that perfect soft-boiled egg takes practice, precision and control. It took me a long time to figure out how to get them right, and even now I sometimes get it wrong. But I’m nearly there. A fresh egg cooks to a perfect soft-yolk and set white at around 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit. But how the hell do you measure that in a pot of boiling water? Well you can’t, so you rely on the temperature of the eggs before cooking, and then how long they cook for, to the second. Finally, they have to go straight into an ice bath to stop the cooking process from residual heat. Complicated stuff for a simple egg, right?
There are two common names used for soft-boiled eggs in Japanese, ajitsuke 味付け and hanjukutamago 半熟卵. Ajitsuke literally translates as seasoned, and refers to the brown, marinaded eggs commonly seen is Japanese food, especially ramen. They are typically marinaded in soy sauce, mirin, sake, sugar and water, or often times the left over jus from making chaashu pork. Hanjuku literally translate to half-cooked, and is, of course, used to mean soft-boiled eggs, giving that creamy, delicious yolk.
“But wait, aren’t your eggs soft boiled AND marinaded?” I hear you ask.
Yes, so I asked a friend about that. And well, just smash the words together to make a tongue twisting ajitsuke hanjuku tamago 味付け半熟卵! Simple, sort of.