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Make the perfect fried egg

Eggs have been a part of our diet for many centuries now. In the early nineteenth century, the famous Chef Auguste Escoffier documented a mindboggling 370 ways of preparing eggs. People always speak about their cooking skills (or lack of them) in relation to making eggs. It seems like one of the simplest things to make, but cooking a perfectly fried egg can challenge many a professional cook. There is elegance in a perfectly fried egg. It is a beauty to look at, a delicious breakfast and great as a salad topping or a sandwich filling. The problem with making a perfect fried egg, or a sunny side up as it is popularly called, is that the base of the egg which is in direct contact with the pan cooks faster than the top. By the time the top part cooks to the correct stage, the bottom is usually chewy, like plastic.

So how does one fry an egg perfectly? It’s very simple. All you need to do is cook the egg white to 62°C and egg yolk to 62.7°C.

Not so simple? Ok, let me make it easier for you. There are three main aspects to a great fried egg. First and foremost is the quality of the egg. They must be absolutely fresh, good quality eggs. If you can get your hands on organic eggs (from hens raised on an organic diet, without antibiotics and hormones), that’s even better! The fresher the eggs, the stronger their protein content, resulting in fried eggs that are not too runny and cook to a perfect shape.

The second aspect is the equipment. Traditionally, fried eggs have been cooked only on cast iron pans that were religiously maintained in peak condition by the breakfast cooks. They were perfectly seasoned and came with strict dos and don’ts regarding the usage of the pan. In those days, non-stick pans were unheard of. I still consider those pans to be superior given that they conduct heat more evenly and gently. But a good-quality non-stick frying pan (5 to 6 inches in diameter) would work perfectly well too.

The third important aspect when making that perfect fried egg is the actual technique: how the eggs are cooked. The ideal technique is explained below:



1tsp unsalted butter

1 large egg

Salt - to taste

Crushed black pepper - to taste


Crack an egg into a bowl. I recommend breaking eggs into a separate bowl rather than directly into the frying pan for a couple of reasons. If the egg is bad, it is easier to dispose it off without wasting the butter in the pan and saves you the trouble of washing the pan. This is also an easy way to ensure that there are no shells in the dish. The egg should be at room temperature since the white will take longer to cook otherwise and this will result in an overcooked yolk.


Heat up the non stick frying pan over medium heat. You could test the temperature of the pan by sprinkling a drop of water on it. If you get an immediate gentle sizzle, the pan is ready to use.

Add one tablespoon of unsalted butter. The butter should gently froth up and not burn. I prefer to use butter when making eggs as butter complements eggs really well. You could use olive oil or regular refined sunflower oil too.


Gently slide the egg into the pan. If you want a perfectly round fried egg, place a 5 inch diameter cookie cutter in the pan and slide the egg into the ring.


In about a minute, the outer edges will turn white and opaque. At this stage cover the pan with a lid and lower the temperature of the range. Let the egg steam in the pan for another 30 seconds.

When the egg white is completely opaque and set, the fried egg is ready. The yolk will be thick but runny at this stage. (If you like your egg over easy, instead of covering it with the lid, flip it over with a spatula and cook on the other side for 30 seconds).

Gently shake the pan to loosen the fried egg. Tilt the pan, slide the egg onto a warm plate and serve immediately.

To savour this delicious fried egg, season with salt and freshly ground pepper and eat with a slice of hot, buttered multigrain toast.


To make it even more mouth-watering, add a side of bacon.

For an Indian touch, sprinkle sliced fresh green or red chillies, chopped fresh coriander and a pinch of cumin powder.


Chef Rajesh Radhakrishnan is the Area Director, Food Production at The Park, Chennai

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Printable version | Jul 29, 2021 11:28:08 PM |

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