Gear for a perfect scrambled egg
And what’s happening while you do it.
Consider the egg. See the sunny yellow yolk and the albumen—also known as the white stuff. If we zoom in, eggs are just bags of water, bunched up amino acids, and lipids. The albumen contains proteins with negative electrical charges, which means those proteins push away from each other, forming a gooey, loose material. It’s the type of texture one would expect from a substance meant to be protective cushioning for a would-be chicken embryo. The yolk too has this gooey texture, though the fats (there to feed the developing chick) mean the material is just a bit firmer.
It’s a thing of beauty. It makes you feel in awe of how the natural world works. Now let’s scramble the hell out of it and put it in our faces.
Note: I’m a product geek and, while this goes deep into the science of preparing a delicious, plain egg, you’ll notice I couldn’t help making this a product story. I’m not sorry.
First, crack your eggs—straight from the refrigerator—into a bowl. Any bowl will do, but because I’m a gear guy I will go ahead and recommend OXO’s 3-piece mixing bowl set, which has got grip handles and a wide lip that’ll make it easy for you to pour eggs into the pan.
Use a whisk—this one is made of heat-resistant, nonstick silicone—to beat the eggs and introduce air and volume. If you prefer to whisk your eggs in the pan, try using a whisking fork that won’t scratch your cookware. This fork is soft, so there’s no danger of a scratched Teflon coating adding toxic byproducts to your food. Plus the one comes with an omelet turner.
Preheat your pan over medium heat and add a pat of butter. This next part is up to you. If you want to cook your eggs free of any other flavors than what you choose to add, use an easy to clean nonstick, stone-derived coated pan. This one is scratch resistant, free of the potentially toxic elements found in nonstick cookware and has a magnetized base that can be used in induction ovens. Of course, it’s not seasoned like a cast iron skillet, which means there won’t be that extra richness.
As the egg heats up, the bonds holding different chains of amino acids together break down. As the proteins denature, the chains lose their shape and make links to other parts of other chains to form a new, opaque structure. The mass of proteins get more and more interconnected as the egg cooks. The water in the egg begins to be pushed out and evaporates into the air. This is called weeping. If you over-weep an egg the result is tougher, chewier eggs. No thank you.
Did you know that there is a way to control the hardness and texture of your scrambled eggs? For softer eggs with smaller curds, continuously agitate the eggs on low heat. For larger—firmer—eggs, cook them in a slightly hotter pan and don’t stir them as often. For creamier eggs, add cream. It’ll dilute the proteins and take the eggs longer to cook, preventing more water from evaporating. No matter your preferred style, you’ll want a silicone spatula, which is flexible enough to get into the curve of the pan, leaving none of that lacy egg residue.
Unless you’re eating immediately, it’s best practice to take your eggs off the heat just before they’re set. They’ll continue to cook in the cooling pain. How to serve? I like this Fiesta set, which is nice-looking and inexpensive.
Once you sit down at your dining room table with a plate full of eggs, season them with some freshly ground salt and pepper and dig in.