Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Onsen Tamago

I have always loved eggs.  In my opinion, the yums factor will almost always be raised 2 fold when topped with an egg...3 fold if the yolk is runny...4 fold if the runny yolk is a fresh, free range, golden orangish hue.  Well, you get the idea.
I have recently decided to take my egg addiction to a heightened level.  I am talking about being able to enjoy an occasional onsen tamago without trekking all the way to the hot springs of a japanese spa.  Although, if anyone wants to sponsor me for a trip...
"Onsen" means "hot spring" in Japanese, so "onsen tamago" literally translates into "hot spring egg." The temperature of the hot springs are perfect for soft poaching an egg in it's shell so that the whites are cooked and opaque, but still runny and the yolks are set, but still soft.
Since I live no where near a hot spring, my newfound obsession has been to replicate the onsen tamago method in a home kitchen.
I researched the internet and found some recipes for making onsen tamago in the rice cooker.
Cooking an egg is really a scientific endeavor.  Adjustments had to be made based on the size of the egg, temperature of the egg, the number of eggs and the elevation I live in.

  • I found that large eggs are easier to work with than jumbo eggs.  
  • Always use the freshest eggs possible.
  • Rinsing the eggs with tap water to bring them to room temperature prior to cooking helps minimize cracking and helps the egg cook evenly.
  • Cooking more than 3 eggs at a time has huge effects on the temperature and cooking time.
  • And did I mention, use the freshest eggs possible?
After 2 attempts with the rice cooker method, I was finally able to crack open an egg with runny whites and a softly set yolk over some fluffy white rice drizzled with soy sauce.
I also wanted to try to achieve a runny yolk with the the runny, yet opaque whites.  That proved to be harder to do with a rice cooker.  Either my whites were undercooked or my yolks were overcooked.  The temperature of the warm setting on my rice cooker was not up for the task.
So I decided to come up with my own stove top method for cooking a runny yolk onsen tamago.  This was even more trying than experimenting with a rice cooker.  I went through 5 eggs before I finally perfected the temperature and timing.

Stove Top Onsen Tamago Method:
Stove Top Method - 23 minutes 
Bring a pot halfway with water and bring to a boil.  Take pot off heat.  Bring egg to room temperature by running it under tap water.  Place egg in a bowl small enough to fit inside the pot with the lid on.  Place the bowl inside the pot and cover.  Depending on your elevation, the timing might have to be adjusted.  I found that cracking open the egg after 23 minutes works perfectly for me.  Add about 2 minutes for every additional egg, but do not try to make more than 3 at the same time.

Runny whites and runny yolk
Rice Cooker Method:
Rice Cooker method drizzled with soy sauce afterwards - 50 minutes
Cook rice in rice cooker.  Once rice cooker switches over to the Warm setting, rinse the egg under tap water to bring to room temperature and place on top of cooked rice in rice cooker.  The yolk should just start to set after about 50 minutes, but the whites should be cooked, yet still runny.

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