You're standing in the front of the fridge, scratching your head (or your belly) and holding that carton of eggs with your other hand. Any given night, right?
Now stop scratching and grab some friends. Not human friends (because who needs those?), but rather, the tin of anchovies you've been saving for a rainy day. Get over here! And the bread that's gone stale but you haven't had the heart to pulverize into crumbs. Come right in! And the nearly-empty honey jar. Pull up a chair! They can all have a place in your scrambled eggs.
When we set out to a) buck our eggs-whisked-with-milk routine; b) put pantry-lingerers to use; and c) learn exciting cooking techniques to apply to any egg on any day, we saw that scrambled eggs are a lifebuoy comfort food the world over. And that the ideas for how to liven eggs up—and how to make them as creamy, crisp, or fluffy as you want—never stop hatching.
Use this chart (and the list below, where we've added more detail and highlighted the important ingredients and methods) to choose a scramble based on the ingredients you have, the flavor profile you love, or the mood you're in.
Dates, parsley, harissa
This recipe—where squishy dates are fried in butter, then joined by beaten eggs, scrambled till soft—comes from Food52er sauteil, who got it from the mother of her friend Mary, who was once Miss Egypt. "The combination of dates and eggs may startle you," sauteil writes, and "it does seem surprising, but why?" We have many other beloved sweet eggy dishes (egg custard, sugar-sprinkled matzo brei, blintzes, canelés, noodle kugel, bika ambon), after all.
To counterbalance to the molasses-y stickiness of the heated dates, cut back on the amount of dates and be generous with the harissa and parsley. Or lean even more savory: Diana Henry's Persian version includes onion, cumin, cilantro, and spinach. But the dates remain!
Garlic-rubbed pan, anchovies, ham
If "dates, fried with eggs" is dessert, Eggs Eli fits squarely in the dinner (or salty breakfast) category: Serve it as a small first course with a glass of chilled fino sherry. Very sophisticated!
That's the suggestionof Amanda Hesser. She exhumed this recipe, written by a former New York City commissioner by the name of John W. Keller, from a 1909 New York Times Magazine article on various ways to cook eggs for Easter Sunday breakfast.
The trick here is that the pan gets rubbed with a clove of garlic before it's put over heat and slicked with butter: This "scents the eggs without overwhelming them," explains Amanda, leaving room for the flavors of the finely minced anchovies and smoked ham, scrambled with the eggs as they cook, to come through.
Garlicky croutons, Spanish chorizo, scallions, pimentón (paprika), parsley
Eggs on toast? Snooze.
Bread crumbs gently fried in garlic oil, then strewn across eggs that have been cooked in chorizo fat and seasoned with paprika? Spanish! And also: savory, spicy, and full of meat. (For early spring, David Tanis adds thin-stemmed asparagus to the mix, too.)
Revueltos also happens to be one of Amanda's favorite way of cooking eggs: For sake of swiftness (and for that coveted curd-like texture), she adds the eggs to the pan whole, then breaks the yolks with a spatula and scoots them around until barely set, as they'll continue to cook on the serving plate.
Golden-brown roux of butter and flour, honey
When you've had a long day and all you want is to drop your shoulders and eat cookies for dinner, turn to this lusciously rich, honey-drizzled egg dish—a favorite from the city of Van, Turkey—instead.
It's more butter and flour than egg, really: Two eggs are scrambled into a toasty roux made of 8 tablespoons of butter and a 1/2 cup flour for a golden mush that's texturally akin to sooji halwa or cream of wheat—and the flavor (warm, simple cookie dough) is just as comforting.
If you're the type to nibble on pie dough (Kristen Miglore, we're looking at you!), make this tonight. I'd happily top it with fruit (weird, I know) for a mid-afternoon-snack or dessert any day of the week.
Brown butter, cumin seeds, onion, tomato, cilantro, Thai bird chiles
As Shayma explains, khagina is an aromatic Afghani and Pakistani comfort food, one that reminds her of childhood in Lahore. It's the layering of flavors—the nuttiness of the cumin seeds, the heat from the slices of hot chile, and the herby freshness from cilantro leaves (and stems!)—that makes the dish special but not high-maintenance.
Scoop up the soft curds with flatbread like chapati or roti, or cushion them on a slice of crusty bread.
Wok-fried, cornstarch-thickened, and flavored with fish sauce, lime juice, and green onions
Can I call kai jeow, a Thai-style omelet, "scrambled eggs"? Perhaps "fried scrambled eggs" would be more accurate. Yes, the eggs are scrambled—with fish sauce (and sometimes a couple drops of lime juice, green onions, and cornstarch)—but then they're poured into a wok where a few tablespoons of very hot oil await to fry them.
To achieve a platonic Thai omelet—creamy yet airy on the inside, crisp and well-fried on the outside (and thereby antithetical to the smooth, homogenous French omelette)—beat the eggs until frothy and make sure the oil is very hot: The eggs should sizzle madly when you pour them in.
For a full meal, add ground pork or chicken (stir-fry it in the wok, then set aside and cook the eggs) to the top of the omelet and serve everything over a bowl of hot rice. And for a non-fried version inspired by kai jeow, our editor Ali Slagle beats eggs with fish sauce, sesame oil, chile flakes, and squeeze of lime, then scrambles till soft and folds in cilantro.
Whisked for smoothness, enriched with cream, flecked with chives
Whereas the Thai kai jeow are all about a textural contrast, French-style scrambled eggs are creamy through and through. By cooking over low heat (you might even consider using a double boiler), with constant whisking, you'll get eggs with curds so teeny and delicate, Daniel Gritzer of Serious Eats describes the consistency as "spoonable, almost pourable." You can smear them, like butter, over a baguette—that's how soft they are.
(Or, for a similar effect, skip the minutes of whisking and poach your scrambled eggs instead.)
Torn pastrami, tomato
Omer Eltigani has dedicated his in-progress cookbook—a collection of forty family-sourced recipes that he hopes will be the first commercially-available Sudanese cookbook in the West—to his mother. She raised him and his brothers, Omer says, on a Sudanese dish of eggs with pastrami.
Omer hypothesizes that one of the many reasons Sudanese food is not more well-known (or at all known) in the West is the lack of availability of the ingredients outside of the country.
So start with these scrambled eggs, cooked in a mixture of tomatoes and pastrami when you want a hearty meal. Go light on the seasoning—pastrami is plenty salty—and garnish with thyme and paprika. Omer also suggests serving the eggs with soft cheese and warmed flatbread, and eating by hand.
Beat eggs with rice wine and sesame oil, then fry until nearly done but still loose and creamy. Season a chunky tomato sauce with rice wine vinegar, scallions, and sugar, thicken it with a cornstarch slurry, and then fold the eggs back in, stir to mix, and spoon everything over rice.
This Indian-inspired dish from Paowalla in New York City is as much about the scrambled eggs as it is about tomato sauce, which begins with caramelized onions, kicks into action with a garlic-ginger-chili spice paste, and goes sweet and tangy with the addition of jaggery and tamarind concentrate. The eggs are whisked slowly—so slowly, and in a figure-eight motion—into the sauce until they become delicate curds, so slumpy they'll practically melt into a bowl of rice or scoop themselves onto flatbread.
Like the Indian patia, Turkish menemen is more stewy sauce than a dry, pile-on-toast scramble. Liv wrote that it reminded her of "a cross between a juicy omelet and loose, scrambled eggs—essentially, a tomato and pepper sauce that's thickened with egg."
In Turkey, it may come with beyaz peynir (a type of white, brined cheese), simit (ring-shaped sesame bread), and sujuk (garlic sausage).
Lastnightsdinner starts her migas by sautéing onion and oregano in pork fat, then adding in slices of corn tortillas and a purée of tomatoes, green chiles, and garlic. Once the tortilla strips have soaked up most of the liquid, eggs get scrambled into the mixture, making it creamy and fluffy. Top with grated Monterey Jack and salsa. It's not a dish that's "going to win any beauty contests," lastnightsdinner admits, "but it’s a real favorite in our household, and it's easy to make for a crowd."
What's your favorite way to make scrambled eggs special? Tell us in the comments below!