The Zen of One Fried Egg

A few mornings a week, I fry myself an egg for breakfast. Just one perfect egg, or, at least, my attempt at it. I have been practicing for a long while, and it’s definitely coming along. It doesn’t stick to the pan anymore. I almost never break the yolk.

I’ve finally gotten the timing right. I do not like runny yolks, but I don’t want a hard, dry, overcooked yolk either. Perfection, to me, is a warm yolk, still damp and shiny, but just beginning to thicken. The white has to be cooked through — not negotiable. It’s been this way my entire life, at least as long as I can remember.

Our Golden Buffs, now 3 years old, lay enormous, round eggs, usually around 85 grams. I know this because my husband enjoys weighing them (the eggs) and announcing the results. Once we got an egg that weighed 113 grams. This would be like an XXXtra Large egg. The gold-laced Wyandottes, 1 year old now, lay smaller eggs, much more oblong in shape and weighing around 70 grams. If I am frying an egg for breakfast, I usually pass over those in favor of a slightly larger, single, perfect egg. One chance.

All the yolks are the color of liquid sunshine [they make me think of the yellow-orange crayon in the 64-count Crayola box], and each one rests near the center of its white like a warm little sentry looking out proudly over a great lake so deep and cold, and yet so clear that you could surely reach out and touch the bottom.

Now I turn up the gas all the way and place my omelet pan on the fire, allowing it to heat while I collect a plate, a fork, a metal spatula, a bottle of olive oil, and a small cup of pink Himalayan sea salt. I select an egg from the bowl on the counter and rinse it.

I wait for the pan to get so hot that a few drops of water, flicked from the tips of my fingers, boil away immediately. Then I pour in a couple of teaspoons of olive oil and swirl them around the pan. The oil becomes fragrant, and its surface begins to ripple. My hand reaches out and surrounds the egg.

I crack it firmly against the counter, or sometimes the edge of the pan. I push my thumbs into the thin crack and spread wide to allow the egg to fall into the oil. Almost immediately, as the white comes into contact with the oil, it turns from clear to opaque. The sound of egg white crackling in hot oil at 6 a.m. makes a kind of music in my ears. The yolk remains oblivious.

I turn away for a few moments, no more, and I wait for the white to cook more than halfway through. Then I raise the spatula, slide it under the white, lift the egg up and away, and flip my wrist so that the egg lands once again in the oil, now with its yolk submerged. This time my eyes remain fixed on the pan and I count quickly to somewhere between 27 and 34, 3 or 4 counts north or south of 30, depending on the size and thickness of this one particular egg. I slide the spatula beneath the egg one last time, and then remove it to a small, white porcelain plate. I sprinkle it with a few grains, no more, of salt.

The house is quiet. I sit at the kitchen table with a view of the coop, and I eat my breakfast in silence.

(reprinted from 2013, this time for my brother-in-law)

2 thoughts on “The Zen of One Fried Egg

  1. Dr. Sukol,
    I have come to love your writing and your little bits of wisdom each Sunday.
    We have tried almost all of your recipes. (We are making the black bean soup again tonight.) Just wanted to wish you the happiest, healthiest, most wonderful new year. We are so delighted that you are our doctor. Be well, dear friend.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.