The egg is a humble ingredient, yet mastering its cookery has long been seen as the ultimate test of culinary skill. ‘Egg Day’ is one of the most feared in a culinary student’s calendar and some chefs still ask prospective cooks to make them an egg dish instead of a more formal job interview.
With simple cooking, there’s nowhere to hide; egg dishes are a test of a cook’s ability to get the basics right. Fragile and unpredictable, it takes years of practice to get simple egg dishes perfect every time but when you’ve got it nailed, it can be one of the most versatile and satisfying ingredients.
We consulted our pool of experts, who’ve been through the rigours of every test out there, on how they make their favourite egg dishes when the pressure’s off.
“I prefer scrambled eggs. The trick is to use good butter and cook them low and slow. Use a cold knob of butter and fold it through the hot eggs so it won’t dry out. I never use water or milk because it will weaken the eggs. And remember to use good quality eggs. An egg with a strong structure and a very yellow yolk will yield a richer product.”
Luke Barry, Stazione Novella
“My favourite egg dish is eggs and brown sauce. I love a good fried egg, sunny side up with a little crispy browning on the bottom. Put it on a slice of toast made with cheap white bread and a dollop of HP Sauce – a sweet-tart English condiment made with tomato, dates, molasses and spices.”
Daniel Calvert, BELON
“I’m a three-egg scramble guy. I add a dash of cream and salt, then cook them over low heat while stirring frequently, which makes them really fluffy but still creamy. I top the dish with cracked black pepper and sliced scallions, and sometimes a little kick of Tabasco.”
James Harrison, La Vache!
“I am pretty easy when it comes to how I like my eggs cooked. Poached, fried, baked or made into the perfect omelette – it’s all good. My only prerequisites are the accoutrements. I love Maggi sauce on my eggs, it adds much-needed saltiness and umami. Tabasco is also mandatory as it has the heat and tartness that helps cut the richness. A fried egg with hot sauce and Maggi, stuffed into a crispy buttered Vietnamese baguette, is the best and most simple breakfast banh mi you’ll have.”
Steve Nguyen, Chôm Chôm
“I’m all about this simple classic with a twist: eggs poached with vinegar for five to six minutes until they are firm with silky yolks, atop cured bacon and a homemade English muffin. Instead of using hollandaise like in a traditional eggs benedict, I make my own bearnaise sauce with a tarragon and white wine vinegar reduction. I find that bearnaise sauce has a stronger balance of flavours than a regular hollandaise.”
Braden Reardon, Carbone
For more pro tips and insider insights check out our chefs’ favourite sandwich fillings and our bartenders’ favourite cocktail books, or for a longer read, find out everything you need to know about soy sauce.