Why I Scramble Eggs in a Wok

(Image credit: Christine Han)

Making scrambled eggs in the wok means I have to throw out all the best advice about cooking scrambled eggs. Don’t use high heat, they say; pull them off the heat before they overcook, they say. But I say crank that heat all the way up and don’t pull out an extra bowl for whisking.

First, we should probably talk preference, in which case, I’ll need to blame my mother. Scrambled eggs are her forte, but it’s a very particular type of scrambled egg she makes — the kind that goes against most common practices. They’re crispy — not rubbery — with a creamy center.

When I moved away from home, I could never get my eggs to taste the way she made them. I followed all the tips and always wound up with several successful plates of eggs, but none had the crispy outside that gave way to just-creamy curds I was after. So I had to watch my mom in action to see if I could suss out her method. Turns out the key is walking away. My mom is the kind of cook who starts something and then drifts off to do something else. Historically, this has resulted in many a burned skillet (Sorry, Mom!), but turns out that walking away — or rather, waiting for things to be at their prime — makes for really incredible scrambled eggs.

She begins by heating a cast iron skillet until it’s very, very hot. Next she tips in some olive oil and then she tips in a bit more. There’s a thin layer of olive oil in the pan by this time, and she lets it heat up until it shimmers. At this point she’s taken a phone call, flipped through a magazine, or started to pluck the dead leaves off a plant. She really does walk away from the hot pan! Now the oil is just near smoking and the beaten eggs have been salted and sitting for 15 minutes. The eggs are added to the pan and they begin to ripple into crispy bits as soon as they hit the hot oil. She lowers the heat all the way and begins to move the eggs around in the pan, creating curds that are fried golden on the outside with creamy centers. She essentially pan-fries scrambled eggs.

I’ve taken this method of hers and modified it to the wok, which, along with chopsticks, allows me to cook eggs like my mom without the walking away part. I’m trying to keep the burning to a minimum, you see. Even better, I don’t have to beat the eggs in a separate bowl because the chopsticks make for easy whisking right in the wok.

With the wok on medium-high heat, I add olive oil and wait for it to shimmer. Next I crack eggs into the oil and begin to whisk with long cooking chopsticks. Between the nonstick patina on the wok and the buffer of hot oil, the eggs don’t stick, but form crispy-creamy curds as they are fry in the hot oil.

When my mom first saw me make eggs this way, she was immediately on board with the idea — no convincing required. All she ever said was, “Why didn’t I think of that?”