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Fried Egg Advice, From a Few Professionals

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In our Phone a Friend column, we'll be asking some of our friends around the food world about how they cook and eat. And we want you to join the conversation, too. 

Today: We talk to the experts about how they make and take their fried eggs.

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Fried Rice Recipe

After learning to boil pasta, the second thing most people master in the kitchen is how to fry an egg. And while it can be an easy task, perfecting this breakfast staple (and excellent addition to any meal) can take some time and wisdom. But once you have your favorite recipe and technique mastered, you'll be frying eggs all the time -- so you can add them to fried rice, sandwiches, pasta, and more. We asked some of the experts to weigh in on how they cook and eat their fried eggs.

More: Get your frying pan ready.

Alison Roman, Senior Associate Food Editor, Bon Appétit: I have a tiny 6-inch cast-iron skillet that I pretty much exclusively use for frying eggs, because when do I eat that little of anything? Never. Anyway, I heat said skillet over medium-high heat and add some olive oil. Crack an egg right in there and season the white with salt, pepper, maybe some chili flakes if I'm feeling wild. I’ll rotate the skillet occasionally to make sure the heat is even, but other than that, no touching, fussing, basting, or flipping. After about 2 minutes, you’ll get the dreamiest egg: slightly puffy, kind of crispy whites with a super runny yolk.

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Perfect Fried Egg

Michael Ruhlman, cookbook author (he even wrote a book on eggs!): I fry eggs a couple of ways. Using very gentle heat, I sauté them in butter in a good nonstick pan for a very delicate, flavorful egg. If I’m not serving them over-easy, I cover the pan so that the top of the egg cooks; otherwise the bottom overcooks and the top is raw.

But my favorite way to fry an egg is in vegetable oil over super-high heat, so high you don't need a nonstick pan. I also cover the pan so the top cooks. The result of the high heat is a white with crispy edges. I like to serve this on top of a Korean bibimbap. (You can find the recipe here.)

More: Make a fried egg for dinner tonight.

Nicholas Day, writer and Food52 columnist and dad-in-residence: If I want the yolk really runny and the whites crispy, then I heat the pan briefly over medium-high, add olive oil, let warm, then crack the egg and let it cook unmolested. I do salt the whites, though, since I once read -- maybe this is from Hervé This? -- that the whites cook faster if you salt them, thus solving the stubbornly-undone-whites problem. This is better in theory than in practice, but I like it in theory so I do it anyway.

If I want the yolk somewhat less than totally raw, then I do the same thing but more gently -- over lower heat -- and I cover the frying pan for a bit, so the top steams and everything cooks a bit more tenderly.

I do remember in a John Thorne essay somewhere, him complaining about Russ Parsons explaining how you shouldn't fry an egg on high because you'll burn the whites, and Thorne being indignant because for him THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT. Which is maybe worth finding if you're doing a comprehensive literature search.

Green Madame

Fred Morin, Chef, Joe Beef: I used to fry it low and slow, thinking excessively about how it looked. Now the butter is dark, the edges crisp, and the whole thing overly salty. Better!

Emily Vikre, a.k.a. fiveandspice, resident breakfast expert: I don't fry my eggs the same way every time, but my most frequent method is over-easy, done like this: Get a frying pan hot (sometimes I use my cast-iron pan, sometimes I just use a little nonstick guy we have hanging right near the stove), then add a big pat of butter. I let the butter melt and spread it around and wait until it has foamed and the foam subsides, and then I crack in the egg. It should sizzle right away. Then I sprinkle it with more sea salt and pepper than I probably really should. I let the egg cook until the white is pretty set, not cooked through but definitely sturdy, then I flip the egg and take the pan off the heat. I let it sit for a few moments to finish cooking the white and then serve. 

Ideally you have a fully cooked white that's crispy around the edges, a little bit of cooked yolk on either side, and then a good amount of runny yolk when you cut into the egg. Fin.

Tags: phone a friend, too many cooks, fried eggs, advice