Perfect Half Boiled Eggs

Sometimes we open our fridge and wonder how do we run out of eggs so fast and then only to realize that of course they run out fast, we're big egg eaters. We've become smarter now by snagging two cartons each time we're at the grocery store. Given that there are only the two of us at home, we used to think a carton would certainly suffice for at least a week but that thought wasn't quite accurate. Each of us have two eggs for breakfast a few days of the week, and coupled with my baking frequency, those eggs really do disappear fast.

We enjoy our eggs in many different ways; sunny side up, over easy, or crushed with our salad. One of my very much favorite way is half boiling them. There's a fine line between half boiled and soft boiled. A soft boiled egg has the yolk still a little runny in the middle but the outer layer of the yolk is still cooked enough to hold it's shape. The egg white is soft but not runny. A half boiled egg, on the hand, is runny for both the yolk and the egg white. When you crack the egg, a perfect half boiled egg should slide right out of the shell into the bowl. And once you poke the yolk, it should burst and ooze out smoothly.

My late grandmother made the perfect half boiled eggs. As a kid I had them almost everyday for breakfast and I loved how I could slurp everything up from the little bowl without a spoon. However, I would always still use a mini spoon to eat the soft runny eggs bit by bit, just for the sake of savoring it. When I went away to college, I missed her soft runny eggs. When I went home for the holidays, I tried learning how to make it from her. It seemed so effortless on her part. She told me that all I had to do was boil some water and then pour the boiling water into a metal cup with the eggs inside. And then all I had to do was cover the metal cup with a lid for a few minutes and then keep the lid open for a few minutes. I came back to my apartment and tried and tried but failed to make the perfect half boiled eggs. They either came out too solid or still uncooked. I asked my grandmother exactly how many minutes did the lid need to be on but I never got an exact answer. The older generation does have a way of producing fantastic results with only mental recipes in the head.

My failure in producing the perfect runny half boiled eggs were getting a little frustrating and I actually stopped trying to make them at one point. Soon enough, the craving got the better of me and I was on a venture again on trying to create the perfect half boiled egg. A lot of attention was given to making it perfect and many times I felt like I was doing a science experiment. And now my successful science experiment has given me many mornings of perfect half boiled eggs. My method is different from my grandmother's but it still produces the same perfect texture. I lost my grandmother two days before Christmas but now every time I slurp up my half boiled eggs, I feel like I'm celebrating her life and legacy. Those are great memories.

2 large eggs, cold from the fridge
Freshly ground pepper

1. Take the eggs out from the fridge when ready to prepare them and place them in a deep saucepan. Fill the saucepan with water until just about covering the eggs.

2. Gradually heat the water under slightly above medium heat. For example, there are 6 levels on my stove and I use level 4. Do not cover the saucepan and be careful not to bring the water to a vigorous boil.

3. With some patience, keep watch over the saucepan. Tiny air bubbles will gradually form at the bottom of the saucepan. As the water gets more heated, once every few seconds an air bubble will float from the bottom of the saucepan all the way to the surface of the water. Gradually the air bubbles will float to the surface of the water more often one after another. When there are about 6-7 air bubbles that float up right after one another, turn off the heat. It is important that those air bubbles float up literally one after another because it means that the water has reached the right temperature to create the runny texture we want in the eggs. If an air bubble floats up a few seconds after the preceding one, this means that the water has not quite reached the right temperature yet which will result in undercooked eggs. The time from when you first turn on the heat to when you turn it off should be around 10 minutes.

4. Remove the saucepan from the burner and place on another section of the stove top that is cool and unused. Let sit for at least 2 minutes for the cooking process to complete. The eggs will not be overcooked even if you let it sit for more than 2 minutes. This works out well when you're in the kitchen and starting to work on other things.

5. Crack open the eggs into a small bowl and add freshly ground pepper over the eggs.

Note: Every stove in a household varies so it's best to have a trial and error first. When I make my eggs, I pay less attention to the number of minutes to heat the water. Instead, I always use the count-the-bubbles trick and it always works wonderfully for me.


  1. Some will say that you should put in the eggs *after* the water has been semi-boiled if you want a more consistent, runny texture.

  2. Hi,

    another recipe:
    boil around 1l of water in a pan, with a tea spoon of white vinegar(if the shell breaks, the white will not ''leak'' in the water) and a tea spoon of salt (eggs shouldn't break with the salt!!!), when water is boiling, add the eggs and start counting 5 minutes, no less no more.
    During that time, prepare a large jar of cold cold water.
    At the end of the 5 minutes, take the eggs and hop, in the cold water. break carefully the shells and you will have perfect ''oeufs mollet''like we say in French.
    During the 5 minute, you can prepare the ''mouillettes'': one or more slice of sandwich bread toasted, then cut each slice in thin long sticks (max 10mm).
    When eggs are in your plate (shells off) catch the yolk with these sticks of toasted bread!
    bon appetit.