When we are out and about in the world, I notice a number of people dining in restaurants who are unsure of how to order their eggs. They ask a lot of questions, then simply default to scrambled if they still don’t get it.
To alleviate some of this, I’ve gathered together terms and descriptions of some of the most common cooking styles for eggs.
The first thing I notice is that a lot of folks don’t know the proper names for the parts inside the egg. What most people call “egg whites” is the clear protective jelly albumen. The “egg yellah” is the yolk. For the sake of clarity in the descriptions below, I’ve stuck to albumen and yolk.
SCRAMBLED – Scrambled means that the albumen and yolks are broken and mixed together, cooked quickly in a hot skillet. Most restaurants serve them “hard” which is often a little dryer than one might prefer. Ask for “wet” and you should get scrambled eggs that still look a little shiny.
SUNNY SIDE UP – An egg that is fried only on one side. The albumen should be slightly browned at the edges, while the yolk is warm and runny. Also known as “runny eggs” or “dipping eggs” as the yolk will go everywhere and is tasty when sopped with toast or biscuit.
OVER EASY – This is most often a Sunny Side Up flipped over int he skillet just long enough for the raw egg to seal itself up with a thin film of cooked albumen. The yolk, and sometimes part of the albumen, are still warm and runny.
OVER MEDIUM – The next step after Easy, this egg is flipped and allowed to cook until the albumen is mostly hardened up, leaving the yolk mostly runny.
OVER HARD or OVER WELL – As it’s name hints, this egg has been fried, flipped, fried some more, until both the albumen and yolk are “hard”.
POACHED – This is an egg that has been boiled without the shell. It may have been added directly to the boiling water, or with the use of a ramekin. The albumen is cooked while the yolk remains runny. Poached eggs are usually offered as part of Eggs Benedict.
SOFT BOILED – The albumen is partially cooked, with the yolk warm and runny. This is also known as a “six-minute” egg.
HARD BOILED – The albumen and yolk are both solidified.
SHIRRED or BAKED – This refers to an egg that has been cracked and baked in a flat-bottomed pan, or added on top of a dish.
Hopefully this will help anyone who is unfamiliar with the wide range of how eggs are prepared, whether ordering breakfast or reading descriptions on a menu.
— Ann Cathey