December 2007

Technique: How to Cook an Egg
Chef Joel Robuchon of l’Atelier de Joël Robuchon – Paris, France
Adapted by

At the International Chefs Congress, Chef Joël Robuchon’s stage demonstration was one of the most packed of the three days. But everyone’s surprise, Robuchon, known for revolutionizing French cuisine, went back to the basics for his audience of professional chefs and explained how to cook an egg.

Demonstrating the precise capabilities of the thermal circulator, he cooked two eggs. One, whose core temperature reached 63°C and a second that went up a half degree higher to 63.5°C. The first egg perfectly was soft boiled with white that held and a runny yolk. The second egg, Robuchon demonstrated as he pulled away the soft white shell, had a yolk with the texture of very loose Play-Doh – “pate a modeler,” or plasticine, he called it, “imagine the possibilities…” The texture is nothing like an overcooked egg yolk – the smooth yellow paste, almost translucent, squished easily then came back together without breaking in Robuchon’s fingers.

It took twenty years of researching temperatures with the thermal circulator to figure out these numbers and much of Robuchon’s time was spent working with Bruno Goussault of Cuisine Solutions. Together, they worked to do away with the superstitious impracticalities of cooking (you can tell it’s done when it sinks, or floats, or changes color, or feels like the soft part of a woman’s hand) and replace them with precise temperatures and times. If this sounds suspiciously like the original definition of molecular gastronomy, that’s because it kind of is.

Step 1: Place an egg in a thermal circulator set at 63.5°C degrees

Step 2:
Simmer gently

Step 3: Stick a small square of insulating foam onto the eggshell

Step 4: Insert a thermometer through the foam so that it reaches the yolk

Step 5: When the egg reaches 63.5°C, remove and blanch in ice water

Step 6: Peel, remove yolk, and play

Chef Joel Robuchon's Egg on
Photo Credit: Michael Harlan Turkell