The containerless fried egg is even more prone to spreading than the poached egg because it is heated only from below, so its white is slower to coagulate. Fresh, high-grade eggs give the most compact shape, and straining off the thin white also helps. The ideal pan temperature for a pale, tender fried egg is around 250°F/ 120°C, when butter has finished sizzling but hasn’t yet browned, or oil to which a drop of water has been added has stopped sputtering. At higher temperatures, you lose tenderness but gain a more flavorsome, browned and crisp surface. The top of the egg can be cooked by turning the egg over after a minute or so, or by adding a teaspoon of water to the pan and covering it to trap the resulting steam, or—as in the browned Chinese “coin-purse” egg—the egg can be folded over onto itself when barely set, so that top and bottom are crisped but the yolk remains protected and creamy.