One of my favorite things to get at Japanese ramen shops is the ajitsuke tamago, a perfectly soft boiled marinated egg, with the center still a creamy, runny custard. I didn’t know how to make one until I came across a tutorial on Serious Eats.
It seemed easy enough, so I immediately set to making my own. Well, it wasn’t as easy as it seemed in the tutorial, as evidenced by the entire box of eggs I went through. But I finally came up with a decent homemade version, though not nearly as pretty as the ones I get at the restaurants.
But practice makes perfect so I plan on trying a few more times until I get it completely right. The nice thing is that you can make a few and refrigerate them and eat them over a few days.
The hardest part is figuring out when your eggs are cooked to the desired doneness. Serious Eats says exactly six minutes. But I found my eggs were still too unstable at 6 minutes. It’s a matter of trial and error, and I’m sure it will vary for each person.
Once you figure out the timing for the egg, the rest is pretty simple. You peel the egg carefully (it really helps if you add some vinegar when you boil the egg and if you use a spoon to remove the eggshell), then you dunk it in marinade.
I would have loved to use some thick tsukemen broth or some leftover marinade from the Chinese five spice soy sauce chicken I sometimes make, but I didn’t have any on hand, so I used the recipe provided in Serious Eats. It needed some adjusting because I found the sauce too sweet. If you have some tsukemen broth or have just made a batch of five spice marinated chicken, those broths will work best because it has the richness of the meat and bones which the quickie marinade option does not.
You dunk the eggs for a few hours, but no more than 12 according to the SE article. SE’s method for keeping the entire egg under the marinade so that the eggs don’t float up is to place a paper towel on top. I ended up using a few spoons to weigh down my eggs (one per egg). Sorry I don’t have step by step photos. But there were so many trial and errors that it made it difficult to document. Once I get it down smoothly, I might update with some photos.
1 cup water
1 cup sake
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup mirin
1 or 2 tbsp sugar (depending on your taste)
2 tbsp vinegar for boiling
1. Combine water, sake, soy, mirin, and sugar in a medium bowl and whisk until sugar is dissolved. Set aside
2. Bring 2 quarts of water and vinegar to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Lower to medium heat once it comes to a boil. Pierce a tiny hole in the bottom of each egg carefully with a thumbtack. This prevents the egg from cracking. Place eggs into boiling water along with egg timer. Cook until egg timer reaches a soft boiled stage.
3. Remove eggs and run under cold water. Gently place cracks into egg. Remove a little bit of shell from one end. Using small sharp spoon, use to get between egg white and egg shell and remove rest of shell with spoon. You should be able to get most of the shell off in one maneuver.
3. Put eggs into bowl with marinade. Use spoons or other devices to weight down each egg to keep entire eggs submerged under. Refrigerate and marinate at least four hours and up to 12. Discard marinade after 12 hours. Store eggs in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 3 days. Serve with ramen.
Slightly Adapted from Serious Eats