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Many of you, I suspect, would rather eat tar for breakfast than read about food science. I understand. You don’t have to appreciate the chemistry behind cooking to enjoy it anymore than you need to know how a combustion engine works to enjoy a warm spring drive through Rock Creek Park. Still, I personally geek out on food science, which is why I read Andreas Viestad‘s Gastronomer column first in today’s Post Food section. It’s a wonderfully, tech-heavy piece on how to cook a slightly runny, slightly firm egg. 

It’s not as easy as you think.

For assistance, Viestad turned to food scientist Hervé This, who suggested a unique way to cook your eggs: in the oven. Writes Viestad:

This has found that boiling an egg — placing it in 212-degree water — is a brutal way to treat it. After all, if the egg itself heated to 212 degrees, the yolk would be dry and powdery, the white would be hard and rubbery, and between the two would be a green-blue ring with a sulfurous smell, the result of amino acids in the white reacting with iron in the yolk. So why use high temperatures at all?

This cooks eggs at 150 degrees (to be more precise, at 65 degrees Celsius, or 149 degrees Fahrenheit) by baking them in the oven for a long time. No matter how long he leaves them, they will not be overcooked. His method demands an oven that will go low enough; most domestic ovens will not. But if yours does, you’ll find that his way is foolproof, regardless of the cook’s kitchen skills. (The exact temperature in your oven can be measured using an electronic thermometer.)

Photo by Flickr users Allerina & Glen MacLarty