Edinburgh Michelin starred chef Stuart Muir reveals how to make the perfect soft boiled egg

AT the age of 23, he was one of the youngest chefs ever to be awarded a Michelin star and he has since worked in some of Scotland's top establishments cooking for the rich and famous, but Stuart Muir has a guilty secret.

Tuesday, 26th May 2020, 4:33 pm
Stuart Muir who won his Michelin star at the age of 23

Forget your filet mignon or herb crusted salmon, the culinary delight Stuart enjoys more than any other is the humble soft-boiled egg, with soldiers, naturally.

The 51-year-old elaborates, “As a chef, you work with different ingredients all the time, from rich dishes to complex ones, but the reason a soft-boiled egg does it for me is simple... when I come home at night, the egg is there, pop it in the water and five minutes later I have this rich yolk to dip into with a bit of toast that is covered in lots of butter. It’s perfect, and probably one of the most convenient foods you can have in the house. Some people go for a Pot Noodle, I go for an egg, it’s just as quick, if not quicker, and far, far more nutritious.”

Simple as it may sound, for many the breakfast favourite proves almost impossible to get just right. It’s a question Stuart has been asked many times before, but just how do you cook the perfect soft-boiled egg?

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“It’s all in the preparation and timing,” he explains. “A lot of people over complicate it, they put the egg into cold water and then bring it to the boil for three minutes... all that sort of shenanigans. A soft-boiled egg is actually really simple; five minutes in fast simmering water for a medium-sized egg and it will come out the other side perfectly soft. The secret is to make sure that before you start, your egg is at room temperature. If you’re using an egg straight out of the fridge, the shell will crack.”

He continues, “An egg should always be at room temperature anyway, but a lot of people put eggs in the fridge when, really, they should be kept in a cupboard. People believe the fridge will keep them fresh, but it doesn’t really. There’s no benefit from keeping them in there.”

Stuart, whose CV includes spells as Head Chef at the Balmoral and Malmaison hotels was also Executive Chef at The Old Course Hotel in St Andrew’s. Then, having opened Harvey Nichols’ Forth Floor Bar, Brasserie and Restaurant, he launched his own venture, Dine on Cambridge Street.

He continues, “Some people also put a drop vinegar or salt in the water to stop the egg cracking, but that’s not going to make any difference.”

Once the egg is ready to serve, however, there comes an opportunity add to it Stuart says, revealing how he eats his.

“I use a small serrated cheese knife, gently tap the egg, prize it open, the top gets eaten first and then the freshly toasted bread goes right in there. I always add a bit of salt and black pepper and, sometimes, I’ll add a bit of Tabasco to spice it up, or maybe even some Chipotle flakes to give the egg a little bit of chilli and smokiness to it.”

With his own restaurant currently offering a Dine at Home option due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Stuart reflects, “The one thing I hope might come out of this lockdown is that people rediscover the enjoyment of cooking and eating at home. Everyone had such busy lives before lockdown that many no longer had time to enjoy the simple things in life, like sitting down to a nice home-cooked meal with a glass of wine and chatting the chat."

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