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Ajitsuke Tamago (Seasoned Soft-Boiled Egg)

Friday, 18 February 2011

Thank you all for all your wonderful comments on my latest daring cooks challenge. Everyone seemed to love the soft-boiled egg. Who doesn't huh? The oozy orange yolk is so hard to resist! Well, it was't just an ordinary soft-boiled egg, it's an ajitsuke tamago, which simply means flavoured eggs in Japanese. I had my first taste of ajitsuke tamago at Marutama ramen in Malaysia when I was home for Christmas last year.

We ordered it without knowing what "ajitsuke" meant as none of us know Jap. But glad we did! It's not only soft-boiled, but flavoured beautifully. So much better than onsen tamago IMO. Not that onsen tamago is not good, don't get me wrong, but this...flavoured soft-boiled egg, can you imagine??!! It was so good we ordered another one. It turns out, making it is pretty simple. Just soak soft-boiled eggs in a seasoned liquid for a couple of hours. That's it. I tried 1:1:1 water:soy sauce:mirin ratio, but it was quite salty. So I would suggest using 2:1:1 instead.

Ajitsuke tamago 2

Now lets get on to cooking the egg part. Some of you asked about how to cook perfect soft-boiled eggs. I'm no expert but I do have a few tips and a foolproof way. Tip one, use old eggs. Fresh eggs are extremely hard to peel. Even if you plunge them into cold water after boiling, peel them under running water or prick a small hole at one end, it just doesn't work. I learnt that the hard way. How old is old? About 5 days old is fine. Tip two, use room temperature eggs as they are less likely to crack. Tip three, always start with cold water, the eggs are less likely to crack this way too. Tip four, wash the eggs under running water right after boiling. This stops the cooking process and the steam creates a space in between the egg and the shell making it easier to peel. Tip five, just be gentle. My foolproof way of cooking the perfect soft-boiled egg is using a kettle.

soft-boiled eggs

The wild boar thought me this actually. When we were in boarding school, we have room checks at 10 p.m. (or 10:30, I can't really remember, but it's early I know) every night, we were suppose to stay put in our own rooms, not allowed to make any visits to other rooms, not allowed to do this and that, not allowed to cook. But we were all teens, teens are all rebellious in nature, so we usually have little "parties" right after room check. The girls would normally be chatting till wee hours, while the boys gather for counter strike sessions or have supper, which usually involves Chinese sausage rice with canned food and pork floss, food that can be cooked with just a rice cooker, in the room. Growing boys, I know. I was quite surprised when the wild boar sneaked me a bowl of Indomie with a perfect soft-boiled egg on top. This man can actually cook I thought. Even I couldn't cook such perfect eggs. But I was fooled, that's about the only thing he cooks best. Oh well, too late =P

The trick is to use an electric kettle. The one with concealed heating element works best. Place eggs inside the kettle and add enough water to cover the eggs by about 1/2 an inch. Start the timer as soon as you hear the "click" sound - just when it switches itself off. 3 minutes for very soft-boiled eggs. 4 minutes for white set but yolk still soft (like in the pictures). It works everytime.

Ajitsuke tamago
Ingredients:
  • 3 eggs - soft boiled, peeled
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup Japanese light soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup mirin
  • 1 tsp Hon-dashi seafood flavour seasoning
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 stalk spring onion - sliced

Directions:
  • Soft boil the eggs whichever way you are comfortable and confident with.
  • Mix all the other ingredients in a small container.
  • Add in eggs, cover and refrigerate overnight. You may want to turn the eggs around every now and then as the eggs float, you will end up with a small un-stained patch.

Ajitsuke tamago 3

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