Chris is a chicken keeper. Last year his backdoor neighbors became interested in chickens after reading Lark’s Homemade Living: Keeping Chickens with Ashley English. They asked Chris and his partner Skip if they wanted to join in establishing a flock of 9 hens and share the responsibilities and benefits (eggs) as a three family collective. Chris calls it their Coop Co-op. Now Chris & Skip scramble, ahem, to use the half a dozen or more eggs they collect every three days. The Craft Your Life team asked Chris to share his favorite egg recipe.
This is more about a method than a recipe. In spring I made my first batch of Momofuku-inspired poached eggs and it was good. Momofuko is the name attached to chef David Chang’s three subtly different and unique New York restaurants and is the name of last year’s big bang cookbook, Momofuku by David Chang and Peter Meehan. Last fall, a lot of buzz around the cookbook was focused on Chang’s unique method for poaching eggs inside their shells by slowly simmering in a hot water bath. The result is a sublimely textured egg—a velvety mass of eggy richness.
The technique for achieving this unique state is interesting enough for its simplicity, but the story of how such eggs came to be is downright fascinating—at least to a foodie like me. The method and tradition for making Hot Bath Eggs originated along the coast of Northern Japan, just above Osaka, where hot springs dot the active geothermal region. People heading out to bathe in the springs eventually figured out (but how?) that eggs also benefit from soaking in 140-degree water. By the time bathers were ready to head home, their egg companions had been transformed into a magical other state between boiled and soft-poached. To this day people still travel to the Yumura Hot Springs in Hyogo Prefecture to dunk their bodies, and their baskets of eggs, in the steaming baths for long, penetrating soaks.
Flash across the globe to New York city where Momofuku Noodle Bar begins serving eggs cooked in the same fashion—in pots rather than springs—and nestled into bowls of ramen. It becomes one of the most popular and permanent dishes on the Momofuku menu.
Now ripple down the Eastern Seaboard to North Carolina where it’s July and summer is in full swelter. If your kitchen at 7PM is as hellish as mine you’re on the lookout for low to no heat cooking methods. Enter Hot Bath Eggs. They cook in water just a shade warmer than what comes from the tap. The burner is coaxed down to its lowest setting. And there’s no measureable rise in the kitchen’s heat index.
Hot Bath Eggs
I make batches of six to eight at a time and store them in the fridge. It’s like having a stash of ready-cooked poached eggs.
WHAT YOU NEED
Large, deep pot
Steamer basket, food rack, or coils of foil
Hot tap water
If you have a collapsible steamer basket, you’re ahead. If not, figure out a way for eggs to simmer without directly touching the bottom of your pot. I use a strainer that hangs into the water and add 5 minutes to the cooking time to make up for the eggs beings packed together. You can also make coils of aluminum foil for eggs to rest upon.
If your thermometer clips to the side, again, you’re ahead. If not, sandwich it between two chopsticks held together with rubber bands. It will straddle across the pot nicely.
Fill pot with the hottest tap water. It will be very close to the target ‘bathing’ temperature range of 140–145 degrees. Drop in thermometer and turn burner on low to bring up to temperature.
Submerge eggs slowly into water and set timer for 45 minutes. Check thermometer every 5 minutes or so to keep in the target range. If water gets too hot, add a few ice cubes. Don’t sweat it. It’s a pretty forgiving process.
After 45 minutes remove eggs if they cooked in single layer. If poached in a basket, turn off heat and leave in water an additional 5 minutes.
If you do not plan to fry your poached eggs and want the whites more solid, continue simmering 15–20 minutes, depending on number of eggs.
Use immediately or store in fridge for up to 5 days. To reheat, warm in a large pan of hot tap water 10–15 minutes, depending on number of eggs.
Cool Noodles, Warm Egg
For a quick and light summer meal, I make a batch of rice noodles and rinse in cool (not cold) water. Then I place noodles in bowls and crack into each a warm Hot Bath Egg and add slices of scallions, jalapeno, and tomatoes. I barely simmer a broth of dashi or a rich stock with a good amount of seasoned (sweet) vinegar and grated ginger. When about to boil I pour the hot broth directly over the egg to fill the bowl. Along with a plate of sliced cucumbers and melon sprinkled with seasoned vinegar, it’s all you need.
Fried Hot Bath Eggs
Unlike a flat-and-wide fried egg, these guys stand in firm mounds like poached eggs. The insides become uniquely thick and Hollandaise-like beneath a crisp, delicate crust. There’s nothing in the world like them. Really. This spring I fried my first batch of Hot Bath Eggs and immediately knew they would replace the poached eggs in my favorite spring dish, fresh steamed asparagus served with egg, parmesan, cracked pepper, and sea salt.
Now it’s July and I’ve moved on to my picture-of-summer BLT salad—a feast of local lettuce, spicy arugula, thick sliced bacon, tomato wedges, shaved onions, and skillet-toasted bread, all served with Caesar Aioli, a garlic anchovy mayonaise also made from our eggs.
This is a very flavorful mayonnaise to use as a dip, a spread, or a dressing—in fact, it’s the classic Caesar dressing. The recipe makes a small batch so I make it using a hand blender (or submersion blender) in a tall vessel just slightly wider than the blender.