March 04, 2005

Scrambled Eggs

by psu

Pete's recent rumination on creamy eggs got me to thinking about something that I don't understand. Why does no one who runs a restaurant these days know how to cook eggs? I can count on the first two fingers of my left hand the number of times I've had good scrambled eggs served to me in the last year or so. Once was at Dottie's in San Franscisco, and once was at the excellent Taco Loco Taqueria in Pittsburgh (I'm not kidding, it really is good Mexican in Pittsburgh). My bitterness stems from how easy it is to make scrambled eggs.

Leaving aside the French Creamy version, I give you my mom's staple breakfast food:

1. 2 eggs
2. 2 sprigs of scallion, chopped as fine as you care to.
3. 1 pinch sea salt.
4. Black pepper to taste.

Crack the eggs in a bowl. With a fork or chopsticks, beat the eggs until the whites and the yolks mix well. Mix in the salt, pepper and scallion.

Now heat a non-stick pan until hot, and add olive oil. When the oil is really hot, throw in the eggs. Stir the eggs around for 30 seconds to 1 minute until they start to get solid, but are still soft inside. The trick is to get the eggs hard enough but not too hard. Serve with toast, sausage, rice, chinese pickles. Whatever.

For more of a Chinese style egg, mix in soy sauce instead of salt. For omelettes, do the same thing, but flip the eggs over in one piece rather than mixing them around in the pan. For a dinner treat, add grape tomatoes and Fontina cheese to the mix, don't stir stuff around too much and then put the pan in the oven to get a nice frittata.

So, what's wrong with eggs I get when I eat out? They are universally overcooked, undersalted, and generally served to me in a cold chewy rubbery mess. The worst are the buffet eggs that sit out on a steam table for 3 hours becoming a completely solid yellow brick of pain and nastiness.

Anyway, be nice to your eggs. Keep it simple, keep it fast, and for god's sake put the salt in before serving.

Posted by psu at March 4, 2005 08:54 PM | Bookmark This

Important addition - should you accidentally make your eggs a tad to hard, adding a bit of water and letting it sit for another 20 seconds or so works wonders.

In other words - rubber eggs are completely avoidable!

Posted by Robert 'Groby' Blum at March 5, 2005 11:46 PM

Re eggs: I refer you to the indispensible and award-winning "Minicon
34 Restaurant Guide", by Karen Cooper and Bruce Schneier. It talks
about eggs.

, see PDF file,
page 82. (Which is the 88th page of the PDF file, I'm sure there's
a rant in that but it would be tedious.)

Basically, unless you're in a really good restaurant -- and when do
you eat breakfast in a really good restaurant? -- the cook is willing
to dedicate fifteen seconds of effort (total) to your eggs. Whisking
takes thirty. The cook has a great parallel pipeline going with
multiple eggs over easy and sunny side up, and he's going to stall it
for your scrambles?

I am more or less reading from the PDF file here, so I'll stop. You
read it. Also read the next section, about the orange insides and
brown outsides.

Posted by Andrew Plotkin at March 6, 2005 12:48 AM

I see I borked the URL there. Sorry.

Posted by Andrew Plotkin at March 6, 2005 12:51 AM

All I know is, the guy at Dottie's can do it on his little grill. These people who claim lack of time or profitability are just weaklings. Of course, Dottie's *does* tell you to be patient, since they cook everything to order.

Most of the good egges I've had were in low rent low overhead places. The major exception was that creamed egg and morel mushroom concoction we had in Paris the last time at Cafe De Flore. Wow.

Anyway, that pdf file was enlightening, but I still want good scramble.

Posted by psu at March 6, 2005 09:12 AM

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