Marinated ramen eggs are simple to make and sheer joy to eat

Kari Sonde

THE WASHINGTON POST – The last decade brought many eggs to the forefront of national conversation. Instagram’s inception in 2010 inspired endless looping videos of eggs fried and poached, with popped yolks oozing out of burgers or off avocado toast. Innovations in plant-based tech meant scrambled eggs without any actual eggs.

A craft video circulating on Twitter and Facebook dunked an egg in various liquids to make it bigger than before. Toy company Sanrio blessed us with an adorable cartoon egg yolk named Gudetama. The proliferation of the sous vide made an egg perhaps unnecessarily complicated. A Facebook group cursed us with ‘Bundt egg’, which I won’t hurt your eyes with.

More importantly, evergreen egg recipes were pulled up and repackaged to become spectacular.

Those Instagram yolks meant you simply had to learn how to poach an egg properly.

Knock 30 seconds off a medium-boiled egg and you have Bon Appétit’s popular jammy-centered eggs.

Marinated Ramen Eggs. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST
Marinating eggs isn’t by any means a new concept, but it’s something to get familiar with
Called ajitsuke tamago, but perhaps more commonly known as a ‘ramen egg’, it fits perfectly in a bowl of its titular soup. But remove it from the broth and it’s another boiled egg

At the beginning of the new decade, we are snapping up eggs so fast that some grocery stores have been wiped clean of them.

If you have some on hand, though, you might be looking for different ways to eat them.

Marinating eggs isn’t by any means a new concept, but it’s something to get familiar with.

You might have already eaten one of the many types – sliced in half, yolk-side up in a bowl of hot broth.

Called ajitsuke tamago, but perhaps more commonly known as a ‘ramen egg’, it fits perfectly in a bowl of its titular soup. But remove it from the broth and it’s another boiled egg.

One with flavour and texture you can use anywhere else you’d want a boiled egg or even a poached one. Ramen eggs are so delicious that, as Michele Humes, author of ‘The Noodle Soup Oracle’, writes in the headnote of the recipe, “at least one of them will never see a bowl of noodle soup because I won’t be able to resist eating it straight out of the marinade.”

The idea is simple: Boil an egg, soak it for a bit, then eat it – a formula already perfected in several iterations, some of which involve a long rest in briny pickling liquid to add an extra zing.

BOIL IT

If you’re going for a ramen egg, you’ll want to soft- to medium-boil it. If you’re pickling or soy-sauce braising, hard-boiling is the way to go.

Take care to boil your eggs properly. Few food items are worse than an overcooked egg with that green ring around the yolk – and neither a brine nor marinade will fix that. They won’t fix an undercooked egg, either.

To cook your eggs, bring a pot of water to a boil, add your straight-from-the-fridge eggs, and then drop the temperature to a gentle boil. Six to 6 1/2 minutes for a soft-boiled egg, and eight to 10 minutes for varying degrees of hard-boiled. You can also opt to steam your eggs. Transfer the cooked eggs to a bowl of cold or ice water for a few minutes, and then peel off the shells.

CHOOSE YOUR FLAVOURING

For the ramen egg, start with a base of soy sauce, rice vinegar and water. For pickled eggs (more on those below), use vinegar boiled with sugar, salt and your choice of flavourings, such as beets or spicy jalapeños.

If you’re looking for the intense and firm Chinese soy-sauce egg, drop your hard-boiled eggs in a mix of soy sauce, a little five-spice powder and fresh water to gently simmer the eggs for 15 minutes.

Once you’ve got the basics down, experiment with flavours. Momofuku’s soy sauce eggs use vinegar and sugar instead of rice vinegar. In “Let’s Make Ramen!,” a comic cookbook, the marinade is boiled with ginger, garlic and chilli to infuse those flavours, similar to a Korean mayak egg.

In terms of pickled eggs, the sky’s the limit. A classic beet-pickled egg involves adding beets while you boil the vinegar, sugar and salt together and results in bright magenta eggs. You might favour your pickled eggs golden like Gwyneth Paltrow and dye your eggs in a brine with turmeric. The National Centre for Home Food Preservation has recipes for sweet and sour, smoky and spicy, dilled – even pineapple-pickled eggs.

SERVE

Ramen eggs are obviously right at home in a bowl of ramen, and you can experiment adding them to other noodle soups, too. But with a delectably fudgy yolk and plenty of flavour, you can use them just about anywhere. I like them on avocado toast for a breakfast that feels a little more special. “You could sprinkle nori or some sesame” on top, Humes said.

You can add one to a rice bowl or a salad – Humes once switched up a salade Lyonnaise with a ramen egg instead of the traditional poached one and used a yuzu dressing to complement its flavours.

Soy-sauce-braised eggs are so intensely flavoured that Humes recommends eating them on their own.

“This is a popular Chinese street snack,” she said. “If you go to a 7-Eleven in Hong Kong, they will often have a giant slow cooker that’s just going with dozens of soy-sauce eggs.”

Have them as is, slice atop rice, or even transform them into a simple appetizer with scallions and sesame seeds on top, she says. Both the ramen egg and the soy-sauce-braised egg work in a number of noodle soups, as she shows in her book.

Pickled eggs also make great snacks, as well as toast and salad toppers. The classic beet-pickled style is often recommended as a colorful companion for beer. You can even get creative and scoop out the yolks of the hard-boiled eggs before adding the whites to the pickling liquid to make extra-flavourful deviled eggs.

MARINATED RAMEN EGGS

Active: 10 minutes | Total: 20 minutes, plus chilling time

Four servings

The original recipe calls for soft-boiled eggs, but medium-boiled are also wonderfully tasty, with custard-like interiors. Do not reuse the marinade.

Storage: Marinated eggs can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days.

INGREDIENTS

3/4 cup water, plus more for cooking the eggs

Four large eggs, cold

1/4 cup soy sauce

One tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar

STEPS

Bring a medium pot of water to a boil; prepare a large bowl of ice water nearby. Gently lower the eggs into the boiling water, then decrease the temperature, so the water maintains a gentle boil.

Cook the eggs for 6 to 6 1/2 minutes for a soft-boiled effect and 8 to 10 minutes for varying degrees of hard-boiled. Transfer the cooked eggs to the prepared ice bath and cool for a few minutes before peeling.

In a tall, narrow container, combine the 3/4 cups of water, the soy sauce and rice vinegar. Submerge the eggs in the marinade. Fold a paper towel into a square, soak it in the marinade, and place it on top to keep the eggs submerged.

Seal the container and refrigerate for at least six hours and up to 12 hours (any longer and the eggs will be too salty). If you want to ensure the eggs keep an even colouring, move them around in the marinade every two hours.

Serve on their own, at room temperature or cold, or add to ramen, sliced according to your liking.