With Easter just behind us, we have eggs on the brain — specifically soy sauce (shoyu) eggs. These delicious, salty, umami-rich soft-cooked eggs are traditionally used as a garnish for ramen, served cut in half so their beautiful, just barely set yolks are revealed. They make all manner of things — including grain bowls and porridge — more delicious. They're pretty divine on their own, too, as a satisfying high-protein snack.
These Japanese eggs are easy. Here's how to make them any time your heart desires the perfect salty, savory, creamy egg.
Shoyu Eggs in Japanese Cooking
We asked Nancy Singleton Hachisu, author of Japanese Farm Food and Preserving the Japanese Way, to give us a little more background on this essential Japanese dish. "They're properly called shoyu-zuke tamago — or in English, soy sauce-pickled eggs," she explains. "In ramen shops they will be called aji tamago (if flavored with soy sauce, mirin, sake, or dashi) or just yude tamago if there is no flavoring."
But these eggs aren't just to fill out a bowl of ramen. "If a person cooks, then they certainly would prepare shoyu zuke or aji tamago from time to time to serve with drinks or to incorporate into a casual meal," says Nancy.
A Homestyle Recipe
This homestyle step-by-step recipe comes to us from nutritionist Cassandra Gates, the founder of Broth Baby, an organic bone broth company in Oakland, California. Cassandra grew to love shoyu eggs while working at Oakland's Ramen Shop, where the eggs are made daily. She really missed them after leaving the restaurant and started making them at home soon after.
Shoyu eggs — which are sometimes known as onsen eggs because they were traditionally made by leaving a basket of eggs in the onsen, or Japanese hot tub — are exceedingly simple to make. The trickiest part is getting the consistency of the yolks just right: not too runny and not too hard. They should be creamy and just set, like a soft custard.
Cassandra's seven-minute eggs, using room-temperature eggs, nails it — the room-temperature part is important, so don't skip it. And the same goes for the ice bath at the end.
How To Make Shoyu Eggs
Small handful dried shiitake mushrooms
1 (1-inch) piece kombu
6 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup tamari or soy sauce
3-cup Mason jar
- Make the dashi: Place the mushrooms and kombu in a medium heatproof bowl. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, and then let it stand off the heat for a minute or two (you don't want actual boiling water on kombu). Pour the hot water over the mushrooms and kombu, cover, and let steep while you cook the eggs.
- Cook the eggs: Fill the same saucepan halfway with water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Gently lower the room-temperature eggs into the water and cook for exactly 7 minutes. Have a bowl filled with ice water nearby. When 7 minutes are up, immediately transfer the eggs into the ice water with a slotted spoon. Leave eggs in water to chill.
- Peel the eggs: When the eggs are cool, peel them. Cassandra likes to use a spoon, turning it upside down and working the tip of it underneath the shell to separate the egg from the membrane. Place the peeled eggs in a 3-cup Mason jar.
- Soak the eggs: Strain the dashi through a fine-mesh strainer into a measuring cup. Pour the dashi over the eggs — it should come to about 3/4 of the way up the jar. Top off with the soy sauce or tamari (you might not use it all). Seal the jar and refrigerate overnight.
- Serve the eggs: When ready to serve, remove the eggs from the liquid and slice in half lengthwise. Place egg halves on top of ramen or other soups, in noodle or grain bowls, or on top of savory oatmeal or rice congee. They are also delicious when served with a few drops of sesame oil sprinkled on top.
- Shortcut for bringing eggs to room temperature: If you've forgotten to bring the eggs to room temperature, warm them up a little by placing them in a bowl of hot tap water for about 5 minutes.
- Storage: The eggs will last in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.