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Truc

Susan Jung

 

Making scrambled eggs sounds easy, right? It's probably one of the first dishes a child learns to make. You break the eggs into a bowl, add seasonings, mix everything together, then cook until done.

But there are as many ways of making scrambled eggs as there are cooks. Leaving out the question of which seasonings to add (I've used everything from salt and pepper to fish sauce to dashi), everyone has an opinion about what implement to use to stir the eggs; what - if any - liquids to add; which pan to use and what fat to add to it; whether they should be cooked quickly over a high flame or low and slow; and what, precisely, "cook until done" means.

My mother - who was my first cooking instructor - whisked the eggs with chopsticks, seasoned them with salt and poured them into a non-stick pan set over a low flame, stirring them every once in a while as they cooked and she multitasked. My father also whisked the eggs with chopsticks, but he cooked them in a wok.

Some cooks insist on using a whisk, saying it makes the eggs fluffy; others say mixing them in a blender is even better for that. Others can't stand fluffy eggs: one Chowhound poster says he uses 80 (precisely 80!) "short flat strokes with a fork" to make creamy scrambled eggs. Some cooks swear by cooking eggs in a double boiler for 30 minutes, all the while adding small amounts of butter to make the ultimate creamy scrambled eggs (these are delicious, but I don't have the patience to make them this way very often). My husband would gag at that, though: he likes eggs scrambled "dry" - so no moisture remains.

To figure out which method works for you, you have to know the results you want.

Creamy scrambled eggs take longer. You first need to stir them in a way that doesn't incorporate a lot of air - use chopsticks or a fork. You don't need to count the strokes - just stir until the yolks and whites are mixed together evenly; there shouldn't be visible traces of either. Add whatever seasonings you like, as well as some liquid and/or fat, which makes the eggs more tender when cooked. You can add water, dashi, chicken or vegetable broth; or milk, cream, oil or butter (use small chunks of butter; it will melt as the eggs cook). Even if you use a non-stick skillet, add some fat to the pan: it can be butter, oil or rendered animal fat (such as lard). Stir the eggs over a low flame in whichever pan you prefer: some people swear by a skillet that they reserve solely for cooking eggs, others use a wok; I use a non-stick pan (the only time I do so). Stir constantly as they cook and watch as they slowly turn from liquid into a rich, creamy, moist, mass with small, tender curds.

For fluffy scrambled eggs, stir the eggs with a whisk, which will incorporate more air. You can add liquid and/or fat, if you like - there's nothing wrong with fluffy and tender, which is better (in my opinion, anyway) than fluffy and tough. Cooking the eggs quickly over a high heat helps maintain the fluff factor, although you should still stir the eggs constantly, unless you like them with large, rough curds that are brown at the edges.

Whatever method you use, the residual heat will continue to cook the eggs after they have been removed from the pan, so put them on a plate just before the point at which you consider them "done".

 

Truc (tryk): noun, masculine, trick, gimmick, device. A French word for a chef's secret.

 

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