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All about "sous vide" eggs


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I put sous-vide in quotes in the topic title because I don't know that sous-vide eggs are really cooked sous-vide, as in under vacuum. Rather, nature gives us eggs in their own packages (shells) that are not exactly depressurized. We can also crack them into plastic, but still that doesn't equal under vacuum. Probably we're talking about low-temperature-cooked whole eggs.

So, let's talk about them:

Temperatures, times and desired outcomes.

In the shell or in plastic.

How to peel.

Doing it in a regular pot of hot water on a stove.

Anything else.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I was fascinated by the concept of sous vide eggs. My first attempt was interesting but unappetizing - a partially cooked white around a gelled yolk. I immediately thought that the 'right' way would be to separate the yolks and whites and treat each separately.

I wondered about lowering an intact yolk into a bath. But then again, if you break the yolk you can season it (maybe adding some chives). I've looked for chocolate molds I could use to mold the yolks and cryovac, but haven't found anything suitable yet. But I think I'll experiment with some plastic condiment cups with plastic wrap on top. My goal would be to cook the yolk until just it holds its shape in a gel form.

Whites, to my mind, could be done in a variety of ways. I think they're more forgiving.

Ultimately what I'm going for is a reconstructed mini eggs benedict. A crouton with some prociutto then a layer of white topped with the molded yolk. Oh, and some squeeze bottle hollandaise action.

The shape could be simple, or whimsical, or avant garde. Perhaps a single bite, but the yolk would not drip so it wouldn't need to be.

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My 11-year old daughter and I did some SV egg experiments over the holiday break. She loves poached eggs over toast, where the yolk is liquid enough to spread easily. We tried 62, 62.5, 63, 63.5 water baths for times between 45 and 90 minutes. The egg was left in the shell during cooking. We found the 62C egg cooked a minimum of 60 minutes produced the best results -- a lightly set white with a thick liquid yolk with an almost honey-like consistency.

We found differences in consistency between the 45 min version and the 60 min or longer versions. The 45 min 63C yolks were similar to the 60 min 62C yolks, but at 60min the 63C yolks had set up too much and weren't liquid. Since one of the benefits of SV cooking is not to have to worry too much about timing, we settled on 62C as our go-to temperature.

De-shelling is pretty straight-forward -- crack egg on hard surface, lift half of shell off, "pour" egg out of bottom half onto toast. Sometimes part of the white will stick to or remain on the inside of the egg shell, which can be scooped out with a small spoon. For a more professional presentation, you can pour the egg first onto a small plate and separate the stuck-on bits of the white from the main egg to get a more perfect, smooth, white ovoid.

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I put sous-vide in quotes in the topic title because I don't know that sous-vide eggs are really cooked sous-vide, as in under vacuum. Rather, nature gives us eggs in their own packages (shells) that are not exactly depressurized. We can also crack them into plastic, but still that doesn't equal under vacuum. Probably we're talking about low-temperature-cooked whole eggs.

When you have some free time, have a look at the several past discussions referenced in the SV index about the misnomer "under vacuum": I think we can agree that for culinary purposes "sous vide" is simply shorthand for "long time, (relatively) low temp" cooking.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Are these similar to Japanese "onsen tamago" - slow cooked, semi-set eggs?

You can get that effect if you like. The sous-vide method is pretty flexible because you can pick your temperature to achieve anything from near-liquid to hard-cooked.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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A dish I'm doing right now is a spin on carbonara. Instead of a raw yolk on top I dressing the noodles in raw egg, pasta water, pepper and romano. Then place a 63c yolk (I wash away the white and keep the yolks in warm water) on top that has a custard consistency and dried Iberico ham. It's all about the eggs, high quality Jidori eggs.

5312698071_f78027f9f2_z.jpg

Edited by ScottyBoy (log)

Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

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I use Joel Robuchon's recommended temperature of 63.5C for 45 minutes. He is shown talking about the technique in this video. Robuchon likens this method of preparation to the Japanese onsen tamago.

To open them, I use an egg opener to crack and take off the top of the shell. The cooked egg slides out through the hole.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Chris,

I cook in shell, shock and then transport to the event. Crack them open, and using the tap in the sink wash the white off and hold in hot water bath from the tap that I averages 120-125F at most people's homes. They never break because they're chilled but once they become warm they're a little delicate but pretty easy to plate.

My favorite, Jidori eggs from my friend's ranch in Petaluma, also make the most amazing pasta dough using only the golden yolks.

4647275032_27d7f71ab2.jpg

Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

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mmmm Sous vide eggs. Great for breakfast...

Set machine at 63.5C, eggs in for 45 minutes.

sous vide eggs.jpg

Must cut to show pliant yet set yolk:

sous vide eggs yolk.jpg

Wait a minute... That's not how the yolk should be.

Off to machine, test temperature with thermoworks thermometer; yep, it was 61C.

Have to recalibrate sous vide machine.

Eggs were delicious by the way.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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I've been storing my eggs in the jar with my white truffles and love to fry them. It's surprising how much aroma/flavor it imparts but I'm about the experiment if it carries over through such a long cooking time. Will report back shortly.

Sleep, bike, cook, feed, repeat...

Chef Facebook HQ Menlo Park, CA

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My conclusion is that while sous vide can give eggs of certain texture(s) that can be used in various dishes, they cannot substitute for a perfectly cooked poached egg or soft boiled egg.

A perfect soft boiled egg is not possible sous vide, using all the sous vide various temps eggs the white is either not set enough or the yolk is set to much. For me the guaranteed way to make a perfect boiled egg it to steam for 12 mins, starting from cold with 500g of water in a thermomix. Still don't have a 100% method for a poached egg, but the cling film method is quite successful. These methods need a temperature gradient to achieve the results and require attention. While a sous vide egg has interesting textures and has it's place but for something to dip my solders in for breakfast it's not for me. Even when using them for poached the while is always to runny or the yolk to stiff compared to a good poached egg.

Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.

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My conclusion is that while sous vide can give eggs of certain texture(s) that can be used in various dishes, they cannot substitute for a perfectly cooked poached egg or soft boiled egg.

Or, I believe, a hard-boiled egg. Unless someone here can say otherwise, I cannot find a method for making good hard-boiled eggs for deviled eggs LTLT, despite what several sources suggest. Julia's method (at least 1" cold water above the eggs; boil for 30-40 seconds; take off heat and sit for 16 minutes, stirring now and then to center the yolks) gives solid whites, soft yolks, and no green.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I was fascinated by the concept of sous vide eggs. My first attempt was interesting but unappetizing - a partially cooked white around a gelled yolk.

I don't like the onsen tamago (LTLT) eggs for the reasons you cite. What I'm looking for is a set (yet tender) white with a liquid yolk.

I found a possible solution in the post Towards the perfect soft boiled egg on Khymos.org. The post itself is interesting, but the technique I was looking for is actually in the comments. Scroll down to the pair of comments by Olly Rouse of Souse Vide Solutions. He describes a method of starting the eggs at a high temperature to set the whites, followed by immersion in a moderate temperature to allow the heat to travel to the center of the egg. The white is completely set and the yolk remains liquid.

This is the sort of result I'm aiming for:

3434681082_b8836a946d.jpg

(This egg was at Restaurant Drouant. I have no idea how they prepared it. It was absolutely glorious.)

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I've only done LTLT eggs a couple of times, and liked the ones at 64 degrees as a stand-in for poached, but the whites are definitely not a traditional texture for poached eggs. I've heard that you can give them a quick trip through simmering water after taking them out of the temperature-controlled bath to firm up the whites and make them more traditional, but I've never tried it.

The other really important thing, in my experience, is not to crack the eggs directly over the serving plate (or English muffin, or whatever). There always seems to be a part of the white that isn't set, and you get a much cleaner presentation if you crack them into a bowl first, then transfer them with a slotted spoon, draining off any liquid.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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My conclusion is that while sous vide can give eggs of certain texture(s) that can be used in various dishes, they cannot substitute for a perfectly cooked poached egg or soft boiled egg.

Or, I believe, a hard-boiled egg. Unless someone here can say otherwise, I cannot find a method for making good hard-boiled eggs for deviled eggs LTLT, despite what several sources suggest. Julia's method (at least 1" cold water above the eggs; boil for 30-40 seconds; take off heat and sit for 16 minutes, stirring now and then to center the yolks) gives solid whites, soft yolks, and no green.

I think that we're talking about a continuum here, not really separate techniques. At issue is temperature regulation and transfer with a package containing (at least) two different elements with different properties. But there's no reason we couldn't do a hard boiled egg in an immersion circulator.

The method I use for hard boiled eggs is to put the eggs in very gently simmering water, cooking for 10 minutes, and then plunging the eggs into ice water. It works very well. In this method I use a visual cue to maintain a constant temp. Julia's method uses the self-regulation of boiling as a starting point and then a repeatable fall in temperature - kind of like the problem posed in the Beer Cooler Sous Vide topic.

I think these methods have been developed and handed down to us because they have formulas based on visual cues that do not require precise thermometers. But if you have the technology on hand, it should certainly be welcome if it's as convenient.

But I think it leads to a problem in classifying sous vide as LTLT. Sous vide can be LTLT, but it doesn't need to be. If we can acheive our goal in 10 minutes, there's no reason prolong it. Keller's sous vide lobster poached in a beurre monte just takes around 15-20 minutes.

Lines begin to blur when we look at things really closely. I started a Sous Vide vs. Poaching vs. Confit topic to try to explore this but it didn't get much traction.

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There always seems to be a part of the white that isn't set, and you get a much cleaner presentation if you crack them into a bowl first, then transfer them with a slotted spoon, draining off any liquid.

A julep strainer does this job neatly as well, something I believe you have on hand, Matthew? :wink:

Or, I believe, a hard-boiled egg. Unless someone here can say otherwise, I cannot find a method for making good hard-boiled eggs for deviled eggs LTLT, despite what several sources suggest.

I think that we're talking about a continuum here, not really separate techniques. At issue is temperature regulation and transfer with a package containing (at least) two different elements with different properties. But there's no reason we couldn't do a hard boiled egg in an immersion circulator.

I get the continuum point, and I know that theoretically one should be able to do HB eggs in an water bath. But does anyone have a recipe that works? I'd love one that does, but the recipes I've tried either leave the white flaccid or the yolk superball-rubbery. Or both.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I have a recipe for hard-cooked eggs in my cookbook: 167°F (75°C) for 45--60 min. As I posted in the old SV thread from my book:

Science: Cooking Eggs in Their Shells

When an egg is cooked in its shell, heat causes different proteins in the egg to denature. Denaturing just means the shape of the protein has been altered by heat or chemicals (such as acids and salts). In a raw egg, the proteins are in tight bundles. As the egg is heated, some of these bundles are able to unfold or extend. This unfolding causes the liquid in the egg white and yolk to gel. One way to visualize this gelling is to imagine a container filled with hundreds of ping-pong balls (water molecules) and a dozen balls of yarn (proteins); now imagine the balls of yarn unwinding, getting tangled together, and trapping the ping-pong balls within the net-work of tangled yarn.

The important temperatures and proteins when cooking an egg in its shell are:

  • 143°F (61.5°C): the protein conalbumin denatures and causes the egg white to form a loose gel;
  • 148°F (64.5°C): the protein livetin denatures and causes the egg yolk to form a tender gel;
  • 158°F (70°C): the protein ovomucoid denatures and causes the egg white to form a firm gel (the egg yolk also coagulates around this temperature); and
  • 184°F (84.5°C): the protein ovalbumin denatures and causes the egg white to become rubbery.

If you like your egg white firmer than it is in the “perfect” egg, heat the water bath to 167°F (75°C) and cook the egg for the time listed in Table 1 on page 162.

I did a lot of experiments to figure out the best mathematical model for cooking eggs so the white would be set firm and the yolk just starting to set; when I'm at my computer I'll generate a new table and post it here.

My Guide: A Practical Guide to Sous Vide Cooking, which Harold McGee described as "a wonderful contribution."

My Book: Sous Vide for the Home Cook US EU/UK

My YouTube channel — a new work in progress.

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I have been trying to figure this out in order to make deviled eggs. But given that you separate whites and yolks.... Perhaps they should be separated from the start!

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Edited by Chris Amirault
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Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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I have been trying to figure this out and order to make deviled eggs. But given that you separate whites and yolks.... Perhaps they should be separated from the start!

One way I've used to make modernist devilled eggs is to use two sets of eggs: (1) cook one set to 64.5C, discard the loose whites and reserve the soft yolks, (2) cook the other set to 70-75C, reserve the firm (but not rubbery) whites and discard the too-firm yolks, (3) carefully put the reserved yolks from batch one into the reserved whites from batch two.

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