Oeuf à la coque et son mouillettes

One of the luxury in life is a breakfast well made -- especially after post-Halloween sugar coma of last night. Oeuf à la coque is on the top of my list as my ideal breakfast: it is simple, satisfying, gloriously rich yet delicate at the same time. The perfect egg has soft cooked delicate white with meltingly rich golden yolk inside, thoroughly heated throughout and ready for bathing the mouillettes. And the mouillettes, the little fingers themselves are buttery crunchy on the outside and airy spongy in the inside, ready to mop up the yolk to the last drop. A sprinkling of sea salt and pepper is all it takes to complete the moment of a simple pleasure to begin the day.

The ingredients are rather simple: a piece of toast (Pain de Mie preferably), a pat of butter, and an egg, as fresh as you can get.

There are lots of recipes and variations on cooking soft-boiled eggs, but I found the following tips to be most helpful:

  • Use room temperature egg. Room-temp eggs will cook more uniformly, and allowing the eggs to reach room temperature before boiling them will prevent the eggs from cracking while being lowered into boiling water.
  • Use pan size according to how many eggs you are making. Seriously, this one tip helps avoid a lot of heartache/half-cooked eggs.
  • Time it and hover around the stove while boiling the eggs. Timing how long you need to boil the egg becomes trickier with the more eggs you boil, but I found that four minutes is the magic number, up to four large-size eggs being boiled at one time, to produce the right doneness.

One last piece of detail: I live at sea level, so if you live in higher altitude, please adjust accordingly (trial and error is not that bad especially if you or your family members love eggs).

Let’s begin. First, boil your water. If you forgot to take out the egg from the fridge beforehand, set your egg on the counter while the water is heating. After the water comes to gentle boil, slowly lower your egg using a spoon so the egg is fully submerged. Notice I use a small pan for a single egg.

When the timer goes off, take the egg from the stove and immediately run it under cold tap water for about a minute or so. Don’t run it too long or the egg will become too cold. Running under cold water will make it easier for the egg shell to be peeled from the delicate white. Set your egg aside, inside kitchen glove/egg cosy/folded kitchen towel to keep warm.

Next, prepare the mouillettes. Cut the crust from the toast, and cut the toast into little batonette, preferably small enough to insert into the opening of the once-cracked egg. Here, I cut it  into six.

Take a pat of soft butter. If you are like me and don’t have soft room-temp butter lying around in your pantry, pop the butter in the microwave for oh.. 30 seconds or so or until slightly melting and soft. Brush the melted/softened butter on the toast, preferably on all four sides if not two. This will allow a good control of how much butter is on the toast so the toast won’t get too soggy/dry.

Bake the toast fingers in the oven (or toaster oven in my case) at 350F for about 5-10 minutes.

While baking, watching them carefully so to allow them to brown nicely and evenly. They should come out golden brown looking like this:

How to enjoy Oeuf à la Coque is as important as preparing it. I’m sure you’ve seen such contraption as this to cut off the top of the egg. This is when you will use it, if you have one. If not, just tap carefully around the pointed part of the egg.

Scoop the egg white from this top-part bits, le chapeau, and enjoy it with a touch of salt and pepper.

Dip a toast finger into the liquid golden yolk, season, and repeat.

Finish off with scooping the last bits of the egg whites. What to drink with this delicacy? Why a freshly brewed cup of darjeeling tea, of course. The astringent, muscat-y flavor of the darjeeling cut through the richness of the yolk, making it a perfect marriage.