There is no doubt that eggs are a necessity in every kitchen. Their versatility is what makes them so popular all around the world, and their flavour is what makes them a personal favourite of ours.
Human consumption of eggs dates back to before 3200BCE, which means us humans have had many thousands of years to play around with this incredible food source.
With more than 70 million Google results for "How to Cook Eggs", we've made it easier with a complete rundown on everything you need to know about eggs, from cooking, to varieties, tips and tricks, and of course the egg dish that everyone should master – the omelette.
Egg varieties (and what they mean)
• Organic eggs - These are raised on organic feed and have access to pastures for most of the daylight hours. The hens are not de-beaked and have enough food so they can live happily with each other. The yummiest eggs come from proper organic farms. Look out for the Australian Certified Organic* label.
• Free Range eggs – Free range hens are housed in sheds and have access to the outside during daylight hours. A maximum of 10 birds per square metre is permitted and no more than 1,000 hens per shed. Beak trimming is allowed.
• Hen eggs – These are standard eggs. If you see ‘Hens eggs’ on a menu then they are probably just trying to be fancy. When it comes to egg sizes - the older the bird, the bigger the egg.
• Quail eggs – Quail eggs are the smallest variety of commercially available eggs. Because of their cute size, quail eggs are used as stars on a dish. Perfect for canapés!
• Duck eggs – These are slightly larger than regular eggs. The yolk is usually richer is colour, texture and taste. They are readily available in good food stores, delis, butchers and some Asian supermarkets.
• Goose eggs – As you can imagine, goose eggs are even larger than duck eggs. They are also richer in texture and taste. Goose eggs are very hard to find in Australia but if you’ve got a good relationship with your butcher he or she might be able to get their hands on some!
• Ostrich or Emu eggs – These are the largest eggs - actually 20 times bigger than your average chicken egg. Ostrich eggs are ivory-coloured and very thick, requiring a very sharp knife to crack. Emu egg is much the same but it has the most beautiful emerald green, speckled shell that could also be mistaken for a large avocado.
• Guinea Fowl eggs – The shell of Guinea Fowl eggs are flecked with brown spots. They have a more delicate flavour to a chicken egg, but sadly, are near impossible to find in shops. You would have to contact a specialty supplier or your butcher to source some.
* Note: In Australia, companies can label foods as organic or free range without being technically true. They can be fined for being misleading but there is no governing body that monitors all food claims.
How do you like your eggs?
There are so many different ways to enjoy eggs and in our opinion they shouldn’t just be for breakfast.
Here is run down of the best ways to eat eggs!
• Raw – have you ever had a raw egg in your smoothie? It tastes crazy good and makes it frothier and creamier. Or what about raw egg yolk with steak tartar? Even raw egg can be delicious - and because eggs lose nutritional components when heated, eating them raw is the best way to extract their nutritional value.
• 60/60 egg – you may have seen this fancy way of cooking an egg on a few menus lately. The process is basically cooking an egg in its shell at 60°C for 60 minutes. Its very hard to achieve at home if you don’t have a sous vide machine, but you can achieve similar results by cooking them at 65°C for 25-30 minutes.
• Poached – This tends to be a popular approach for cafes and restaurants. The eggs cook the fastest and - if you have your technique down - it can be quite easy. The trick is in making several of them at the same time - making sure they're all warm when they hit your plate. We have a good tip for poaching many eggs to serve at home. Just poach your eggs as normal but place them in a ice water bath to cool. Once you’ve poached all your eggs, gently drain out the iced water and carefully, slowly pour some boiled water to cover. Leave for 5 minutes and then drain and serve eggs all at once.
• Fried – There are several ways to fry an egg - and several things to fry them in! Our personal favourite is the left over fat from bacon. And if you salt your eggs while they're cooking, you can get a cri. Yum! When it comes to flipping, "easy over" means still having a running yolk, while "hard over" means - you guessed it - a hard yolk!
• Scrambled eggs – It's very easy to overcook scrambled eggs to the point where they get that undesired ‘eggy’ taste. The key to great scrambled eggs is to cook them really slow on a low heat with just a bit of butter, salt and pepper. With a wooden spoon stir constantly and don’t allow the egg to catch the base to much. Remove eggs from the heat before they ready to your liking as the residual heat will continue to cook the eggs once off the heat.
• Boiled – boiled has to be the easiest way to cook eggs. My technique requires a little intuition in sizing up you’re eggs, literally. I look at the size and also the temperature, whether they are out of the fridge or room temperature. I place eggs in the smallest saucepan I have, cover them with water and then boil to a rolling boil for 2 minutes to 2 minutes and 30secs. This will give you perfectly soft boiled eggs! A bit of white pepper and salt is all you need!
• Omelettes – They say in great French kitchens, new chef hires are required to cook the head chef an omelette as a measure of how good of a cook they really are. A perfect omelette has to be pale on the outside and soft and runny on the inside, and seasoned only with salt and pepper and maybe some freshly chopped chives. Jacques Pepin has a great video on YouTube with instructions for the perfect French omelette.
• Baked eggs – This is a relatively new addition to café menus around Australia. There are a few different types from Spanish to Middle Eastern. They all include some sort of tomato based sauce and can have veggies or meats, like bacon or sausage. The eggs are simply cracked on top of the sauce into a oven proof dish and baked until set. A whole meal in once dish!