I love the yolky, glossy cheeriness of a sunny-side-up fried egg, but when you’re ordering them at a diner, there’s almost no avoiding the (horrible, horrible) jellyfish blob of uncooked egg white that sits on top of the more cooked white next to the yolk. So how to solve the sunny-side-up egg problem, achieve the balance of a just-cooked-but-not-rubbery white with a still-runny yolk without sacrificing the sunniness and just going over easy? It is simpler than you might think, and it takes nothing but a few drops of water and a tight-fitting lid. Yep—it’s steam that helps sunny-side-up eggs become their most perfect selves.
If you’ve ever pan-fried dumplings, you’ll recognize the technique. First, you get a bit of a browned crust on the bottom of the thing, to give it additional texture and flavor. Then, you add a little water to create steam, which gently warms it through without overcooking it.
To make a sunny-side-up egg, coat a frying pan thinly with olive oil and get it really hot. When the oil gets loose and shiny, crack an egg in. It should respond immediately to the oil, and the white will begin bubbling. This all happens fast, so watch the egg carefully. The edges of the white will begin to look opaque and maybe start to crisp. When they do, run your fingers under the kitchen faucet and flick a few drops of water off your fingertips and into the pan. The oil and the water do not want to be together, and will hiss and pop unhappily. No matter!
Quickly cover the egg up with the lid and keep an eye on it. After 20 or so seconds, the remaining jiggly white will have cooked through, becoming almost puffy-looking. (Let it go too far and the yolk will start to look glazed over and the white will become rubbery, so do watch it fairly closely.)
That’s it. You’re done. Slide that sunny-side-up egg onto a piece of toast and Instagram freely.
The Perfect Sunny-Side-Up Fried Egg
- Yields: Makes as many as you want
Add enough oil to the pan so that it just thinly coats the bottom. Turn the heat to high and get the pan and the oil really hot, so that the oil shimmers and flickers. When it does, crack an egg into the pan. When the edges begin to hold their shape, even beginning to brown a bit, wet your fingers and flick a few drops of water into the frying pan around the egg, and cover the egg with the lid. Keep an eye on the egg. After 20 to 30 seconds, the white will be slightly puffed and just-cooked through, the yolk still shiny and runny.