Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Soy Sauce Eggs

Do you ever have those restaurant foods that drive you mad? A single dish that will float in your mind, demanding you return to the establishment to sate a craving? To me, this is the Soy Sauce Egg (otherwise known as Shio Tama) at Ramen Takumi (formerly Setagaya) near Union Square.. These are soft boiled eggs, with a tantalizingly runny center with a solid white, marinated in soy sauce and left floating in the soup. I will return again and again to consume these salty, slurp-worthy treats. The addiction was becoming too much, a month would go by where I didn't have time to travel downtown for Ramen, and I would start to try to find reasons just to be in that neighborhood. After reading Momofuku for 2's posting about Soy Sauce Eggs, it hit me. Why didn't I just make them myself? Imagine, any time I wanted I could indulge in these perfectly salty snacks, without the assistance of the F train. I didn't know what I was getting myself into.

Apparently most "Soy Sauce Eggs" are hard boiled. Hard boiled eggs are a snack that had been around my house as a kid that I was resoundingly against. The white part was always fine, but the chalky, solid yolk I found really gross. If I was going to create this I was going to have to do it in steps.

1. Figure out how to perfectly "soft boil"
2. Figure out how to perfectly peel this somewhat delicate creations
3. Decipher the best Soy Sauce based marinade
4. Create the best method of serving and devouring my new treat

I will not disclose how many eggs I went through teaching myself to soft boil. There were the ones that were in too long, reaching that point of hard boiled with the gross chalky center, and worse, there were the ones not done enough, creating an egg too delicate and runny to work with.  A soft boiled egg, it turns out, can be achieved by carefully submerging your egg in rapidly boiling water for 6 minutes, but to get that perfect, almost gel like yolk that I love in ramen exactly 7 minutes is what you need. Once removed from the water, submerge your eggs in ice water to stop its cooking.

Peeling eggs was another challenge. The first attempt left the egg white torn and divited, not exactly perfect for submerging in a marinade or for creating a pretty snack. I saw videos on the internet where, after removing the top and bottom of the shell, the egg can be easily "blown" out of the remaining shell. Apparently this only works for hard boiled eggs. When you try it with a soft boiled egg, you end up with yolk all over your jeans, your hands and your floor. Trial and error people. Finally I learned to tap it gently on the bottom, where the natural air pocket is, and delicately peel from there. Some people hold that if you put vinegar in the ice water bowl it makes the shell more brittle and easier to peel, but it seemed the same either way to me.

Finally it was time for me to choose my marinade. Many marinades consist of water, sugar, and--of course--soy sauce. Some include green onions and ginger. Most, it seems, involve simmering the eggs directly in the marinade. That last part seemed like a dangerous idea to me. I had creating the perfect consistency of soft boiled egg down to a science. Since most soy sauce recipes use hard boiled eggs, exposing them to some extra heat wasn't a big deal. To my perfectly gooey yolks, it was a very big deal. Momofuku for 2 however, did not put the eggs into a simmering marinade. She made a combination of soy sauce, mirin, and sherry vinegar, and just lets them soak for an hour. I went for a combination of the two ideas. This method is essentially of my own invention, stealing bits of ideas here and there. This is not to be taken as an extremely authentic way to create soy sauce eggs, it's just the recipe that worked for me.

Soy Sauce Egg Marinade

-1/2 cup of water
-3 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce
-1 teaspoon of sugar
-1 green onion, sliced, white and light green part only
-3 Soft Boiled Eggs, peeled

Whisk together water, soy sauce, sugar and green onion in a small saucepan. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and allow to cool. Place eggs in a sealable storage bag and pour marinade over top, submerging the eggs. Refrigerate for 1 hour. If the eggs are not completely covered, turn the eggs after half an hour to get even staining. Remove from marinade and either eat immediately or keep refrigerated in a sealed container for up to 2 days.

Finally I had to find the perfect way of serving these delicious, salty, gooey treats. Momofuku for 2 used green onions and fried shallots to top. An Epicurous recipe for soy quail eggs used sesame oil. Again, I went for an amalgamation. Slicing the eggs in half, I arranged them on a plate. Having tried them both cold, straight out of the fridge, and warmed in the microwave for 15 seconds (just enough to warm without further cooking the yolks) I prefer warm, but both are acceptable. I put about a Tablespoon of sesame oil in a small pan over medium heat. When it was hot, I sliced up a shallot and sauteed it in the oil. Once crisp and browned on the edges (about 2-3 minutes) I poured the entire contents of the pan over the eggs. On some eggs, if I felt I needed a bit more of the rich soy sauce, I would put just a drop or two of sauce straight into the gooey yolks, where the drops would expand into veins of flavor. It's really one of those recipes you can play with and add things where desired. I had made a perfect snack, with all of the soft, slurpy, saltiness I had spent so much time obsessing over while eating ramen.

I have made many of these over the last few weeks. Sodium intake might be becoming an issue. I should stop soon. Will might be breathing a sigh of relief, thinking no more eggs all over his kitchen, no more of this food he finds so gross popping up a few times a week. I, however, am not ready to give up eggs anytime soon. I still want to learn how to poach one. Stay tuned.


Belinda said...

I love it! You are a perfectionist!

Mother Rimmy said...

What an interesting dish. Really cute blog post too!

Emily Ziegler said...


Deanna said...

These sound delicious. I've never heard of them, and will go with your method (since I have nothing to compare them to I will assume they are authentic). If you need to learn how to poach an egg, Smitten has a tutorial. Its the exact same way as how they teach you to in culinary school.

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