Fried eggs w. no oil.
When I moved back to the UK permanently in 1989 I briefly lived in a flat in South Morden, the very last stop on the Northern Line and barely London. I was renting a room from two BT Engineers who were shocked at my lack of exposure to their “football, Fords and caff” culture. I spell it caff as it sure wasn’t a cafe as I’d understood one to be.
The caff was run by a Greek guy called Peter and had formica tables with simple bench style seating. I recall it being a ten-minute walk from the flat, close to the Tube Station with plate glass windows and always steamy and always bustling. The greeting from Peter was as if we were prodigal sons returning from a long time away. Nearly a hug but not quite – we’re British you know. None of the touchy feely North American nonsense between blokes.
Very good tea came from a massive urn and if you were feeling all posh and continental you could have coffee. This was instant awfulness and served you right for not being British and drinking tea. This was a place that deep fried Mothers Pride white slices in oil as a delicate addition to the bacon, two eggs, bubble and beans and the sauces came in two flavours: Red or Brown. The sausages were so awful I can barely stomach the thought of them in their artificial collagen skins and stuffed with Paddywhack (according to my dear step-mother Paddywhack is the, “lips, dicks, tongues and arseholes” left over in the abattoir that goes into cheap sausages) and really doesn’t bear thinking about. They were also deep fried?
I love a good fried egg. For me it has a soft yolk but the entire white is cooked. When I asked for such eggs I was told, “No problem”. Little did I know what I was getting… The fried eggs though should have technically been called shallow-fried eggs. If they could have worked out a way to deep fry them they would have. The pan is filled with about a centimetre of cheap and nasty veg oil that is dispensed from some bloody great twenty-five litre drum of the stuff, heated up to a dangerous temperature and then the eggs broken into said oil. In order to cook the tops the cook spoons hot oil onto the exposed bit of egg thus “cooking” the top. They are retrieved with a slotted spoon, plonked on the plate and served up dripping in hot oil. Truly disgusting.
If there was any doubt amongst the caff set that I was a poncy and effete middle-class boy it was sealed when I recoiled visibly at these. Determined to make amends and try and fit in I got stuck in and slid pieces of greased egg down my gullet. I should have shut-up then (story of my life…) but I thought I’d strive to bring a sliver of health into their lard soaked lives with a tip on how to fry eggs without oil. I might have well suggested burning the Union Jack and defacing portraits of Brenda for the reaction I got.
As the readers of this blog are undoubtedly more sophis then here goes.
Soft Eggs sans oil:
Heat pan to a medium heat (not too cool or the white doesn’t cook or too hot and the yolk hardens. Just right – experiment and you’ll learn).
Drop in a small knob of butter – stops them sticking and nearly browned butter imparts an extra delicious flavour.
When the butter sizzles crack both eggs – two eggs, always – in taking care not to break the yolks. If you nick a yolk then scrap it all and start again.
Cook uncovered for a mental count of about 20 then take the pan lid and drizzle a small amount of water into it (again, you’ll get the hang of the correct amount with a bit of experimentation).
Pop lid over pan will splash the water in and make steam. The lid traps the steam which cooks the tops of the eggs to perfection. Water cooks off into steam so eggs aren’t in a buttery watery sludge.
Serve on toast or make egg sandwich (a Banjo if you are a GRUNT).
Break yolks to get nice runny effect. Me? I slather Tabasco on at this point.
PS: Pete’s Caff had excellent Bubble. Possibly because it was impossible to deep-fry.