Times and Textures

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

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Cooking times for in-shell eggs are determined by the desired texture (they also depend on egg size, starting temperature, and cooking temperature; the times here are rough averages). There’s a continuum of eggs cooked in the shell for different periods of time. The French oeuf à la coque (“from the shell”) is cooked for only two or three minutes and remains semi-liquid throughout. Coddled or “soft-boiled” eggs, cooked 3 to 5 minutes, have a barely solid outer white, a milky inner white, and a warm yolk, and are spooned from the shell. The less familiar mollet eggs (from the French molle, “soft”), cooked for 5 or 6 minutes, have a semi-liquid yolk but a sufficiently firm outer white that they can be peeled and served whole.