I’m sitting in the kitchen waiting for my soft-boiled eggs to cook. The recipe says it takes 45 minutes, so I must be patient. Today is the first time I have unpacked my new sous vide machine to give it a try. I’ve had it for a couple of months, but it offers such an incredibly different cooking process that you can’t just “adapt” a regular recipe. At least, I can’t. Soft boiled eggs are the simplest recipe I have come across, so I thought this would be a good place to start.
For anyone not familiar with “sous vide”, it means under vacuum and refers to cooking things in vacuum sealed pouches in hot water. The water temperature is low and very specific for what you are cooking, and it is held constant. The water circulates to insure even cooking. The machine is made up of a cylindrical electrical unit that heats and circulates the water while maintaining the set temperature. The sous vide unit I purchased is attached to the side of a large pot, a large plastic tank or any large, deep container. It is actually very portable.
Technically cooking eggs isn’t sous vide because the eggs are not in a vacuum sealed pouch. I wanted to tip toe into this venture, so eggs seemed like a good starting point. I found a recipe on-line and decided to try it. I cooked the eggs at 146 degrees for 45 minutes. I tried eggs straight out of the fridge, as well as eggs that were warmed to room temperature. When using the sous vide machine there are markings for minimum and maximum amounts of water needed. I didn’t think that 6 eggs would take too much water so I filled the water tank to about an inch above the minimum mark. When I turned the sous vide on, the eggs danced and bounced around like a choreographed ballet. I was worried an egg might break, but they were fine. Just for fun I slowly added more hot water, and sure enough the egg dance slowed. The eggs continued to move slowly around in the water. The noise level dropped once the eggs slowed down.
I did shoot a little video of my dancing eggs, but I haven’t figured out how to post video yet. After an agonizing 45 minutes, I removed the eggs and cracked a couple open. I was a little disappointed that the whites were not as set as I would have expected. I gave the eggs another 10 minutes and found a slight improvement. By then I couldn’t eat any more eggs so I stopped the experiment. Oh, and there didn’t seem to be any difference between the eggs that were cold or those that were room temperature to begin with.
Next time I will increase the temperature slightly, as well as the cooking time. Apparently you can cook them for a whole hour and they will still be soft-boiled. Now you might wonder why someone would go to this much trouble when you can just cook eggs on the stove for 5 minutes. I have read that sous vide eggs have a creamy yoke that thickens like a smooth custard – something you can only achieve by cooking at a steady low temperature. We shall see.