J. Kenji López-Alt’s Technique for Making Extra-Crispy Fried Eggs in a Wok Takes Less than 1 Minute

published Mar 7, 2022
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Like most people, I enjoy a good fried egg in the morning every once in a while. In particular, I love making a fried egg for breakfast on weekends, when I have a little bit more time to actually think about exactly how I want my eggs to turn out. Although opinions vary on the best fried egg recipe, my preference usually leans toward maximum crispiness around the whites with a super-runny yolk (preferably served over a bed of perfectly cooked white rice).

This brings me to J. Kenji López-Alt. A critically acclaimed chef, food writer, and author of books like The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, López-Alt never has a shortage of insightful, ingenious cooking techniques — he even taught us how to poach 30 eggs at once!

López-Alt’s brand new cookbook, The Wok: Recipes and Techniques, which is available this week, has countless tips and lessons for just about anything related to cooking in a wok. One of the many techniques from The Wok involves making what just might be the best-ever version of the fried egg. In the chapter of the book titled “The Science of Stir-Fries” (page 114), López-Alt explains the first time he had a “truly fried” egg was in Thailand, in which a vendor served him up an extra-crispy fried egg that “sputtered” and “spit” in the pooling hot oil, like a fried egg should. Additionally, López-Alt describes this ultimate fried egg as “puffy” and “cratered” with “lacy edges.” In other words, perfect. Here’s how he does it.

Start off by heating a few tablespoons of vegetable or olive oil in a seasoned and prepped wok over medium-high heat — López-Alt recommends using a wok or a 10-inch cast iron, carbon steel, or nonstick skillet. Crack the egg just above the surface of the oil to avoid splashing, and season it with salt and pepper. Then, working quickly, tilt the wok toward yourself carefully (use a dish towel to protect your hand from bubbling oil) and let the oil pool and use a spoon to baste it over the white of the egg. After about 45 seconds, you should have a wonderfully crispy and bubbly fried egg that is both crunchy around the edges and still soft and runny in the center.

In this clip, you can also see López-Alt gently swirling a fried egg in a brand-new and freshly seasoned wok, which might just be the best way to break one in!

If you’re new to cooking with a wok, López-Alt’s book includes extensive instructions on seasoning a wok, and a lot of other incredibly helpful advice.