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No stick fried egg tips?

post #1 of 38
Thread Starter 
Alright...I went out and bought a small stainless steel pan to try and perfect fried eggs that would not stick. I have a large 10 inch pan that works great for all my other needs, but I have not worked with anything smaller.

Here is the problem...from the very first egg I tried to fry in that pan until the 15+ eggs since, each and everyone of them has stuck something awful to the pan!

I asked one of my instructors today about this. She explained that I need to heat the pan first. Once it is pretty hot, then I add my oil and let that heat pretty good. Then I add my egg. I tried that tonight with no success.

At one point I got an egg to mostly release from the pan with ease except for the dead center of the egg. I gently tried to get the spatula underneath...at which point the yoke broke.

I have experimented with cooler cooking temperatures for longer periods of times. I have tried higher temperatures for shorter time. I have tried thinner spatulas...thicker spatulas...wood spatulas...etc.

The closest I got to a non-stick fried egg was when I got the pan pretty hot, then added the oil; then before the oil got too hot, I added the egg and turned down the heat. (this was the egg that still stuck in the middle of the yoke). I understand that if the oil smokes, the food will stick. So I have been sure to not get the oil to that point. Still no success.

I know I am missing something simple. Ideas?

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post #2 of 38
I've never heard smoke = stick (Which isn't true anyway) but you simply don't have enough heat. If your oil isn't smoking, it's "not" hot enough. Try not to over think things either. Good luck.
post #3 of 38
Thread Starter 
LOL...its funny that you say that about not over thinking. When I first bought my 10 inch SS pan, I could do fried eggs with no problem. But now that I am trying to do exactly what our instructors say, now all of a sudden, I feel like I can't cook!

Thanks for the smoke point tip too. That was one thing I specifically stayed after class to ask our instructor about. She told me that once the oil hits the smoke point, then it looses all its non-stick properties and is no longer good. It didn't sound right to me either, but hey...i'm the student, right? LOL.

I will retry with hotter oil tomorrow and not overthink and post the results. thanks again!
post #4 of 38
The one variable you havn't mentioned is the amount of oil you are trying. The oil (when hot) is actually acting as a barrier between the egg and the pan, causing the water in the egg to vaporize. All those tiny bubbles of water vapor escaping the surface keeps the protiens from setting in those tiny grooves and pits in the pan. Conventional pans, while appearing nice and smooth to the naked eye, are actually quite rough on a microscopic level. The secret to non-stick pans is their super refined surface.

The reason the center of that egg you made stuck is because that was the coldest and heaviest part. It's gotta SIZZLE when it hits the pan.

Try a little more oil, and a little hotter.

Just my $.02
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post #5 of 38
maybe get a small teflon coated pan, thats how i learned to do eggs in school, pretty much the only thing ill use a teflon pan for.
post #6 of 38

Teflon was the biggest winner of the "No Fat Movement"

Yeah, the non-sticks pretty much came to market because people refused to use a tbl spoon butter to fry an egg. Most times you want the food to make a fond on the pan. I wish people would have switched to cast iron instead. dummies.:roll:
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post #7 of 38
No. It's because teflon, in simple terms, repels water.

Technically it resists van der Waals forces, which is how water sticks together (surface tension). The food is unable to create those initial simple bonds to the pan surface that allow the really sticky protien and starch bonds that occur later.

Which is why teflon browns so poorly and doesn't generate fond.

Phil
post #8 of 38
Removed reply once I realized this is a Pro Forum. Sorry.
post #9 of 38
tip that my intructor told us the first day of demo and never left my head.

"hot pan , hot oil"

he said this every hour....
post #10 of 38
Buy a cheap non stick pan. Put some butter in it. Cook the eggs. Use that pan for only that. Use your Stainless pan for real cooking.
End of problem.
post #11 of 38
It's unfortunate, but some of your instructors aren't all knowing. Especially the younger ones & the assistants. Trust your instincts & use school as a guide. In 20+ years, not ONE person has asked me where I went to school... just where I've worked. Hang in there. Oh, & it looks like a few others are chiming in with some pretty good advice as well. Ciao!
post #12 of 38
Also, make sure your egg is at room temperature...
post #13 of 38
Which raises this question: the health inspector told us NOT to allow eggs to get to room temp. Why? Salmonella? We do it anyway for baking. I just nod when he's there. I didn't want him to know we use room temp eggs or that I didnt' know his reasoning. It's always better to simply smile and nod.
post #14 of 38
i think if you ask the health inspector to repeat his statement you will find he said "do not STORE eggs at room temperature" letting them warm up just before use is fine... its like defrosting something... even though it says STORE below -18c you can still defrost before you cook...
post #15 of 38
There's one aspect of the "hot pan, hot oil" method I don't like, and that's the tendency for the egg whites to be overcooked, which results in a bottom that is overly crisp and egg whites that bubble around the yolk. Even when you take the pan immediately off the heat when the egg drops into the pan you still run into that problem.

Does anybody have an amendment to that technique or a different one that allows the cook to control the texture and consistency of the white?
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post #16 of 38
Thread Starter 
Alright! I spoke with my garde manger chef who describes himself as an old egg-man. I forgot the name of the restaurant where he worked, but he has apparently cooked 10's of thousands of eggs. He says the trick is to season the heck out of the pan.

Here is the fun part of cooking--the food debates! I spoke with my basic cookery chef who said that you do not need to season stainless steel. (and I honestly don't recall if I ever seasoned my 10inch SS pan. But it really never had sticking problems). When I told my GM chef that I was recommended to not season the pan, he laughed and said that no one would really think to season the SS egg pan unless they ever worked as an egg-man, like himself.

The process he told me was 1) season the pan; 2) once cool, take a coarse steel wool to it and basically remove the visible seasoning out of the pan face; 3) clean the pan thoroughly of the grey steel/seasoning residue with hot water and towel only (no soap); 4) re-season the pan for a second time; 5) once cool, take a fine steel wool to the pan face; and 6) clean thoroughly with hot water and no soap. Then for ongoing care, never use soap on the pan--just wipe it out with hot water and a towel--and if needed, use some salt as a scrubbing agent. I just got through re-seasoning for the second time and need to take the fine steel wool to it now. Update to come!


(1 hour later): OK... I just finished scouring the 2nd seasoning and fried some eggs. Both eggs came out PERFECT! They FINALLY floated on the oil like they were supposed to, and were easy to flip and serve. More importantly, because they did not stick, I was able to use a somewhat lower temperature to cook. So, the whites were soft and tender...not crispy from being flashed fried by the high-high heat. I tried one egg with the oil at the smoke point, and another egg with the oil at a lower temp. where the oil begins to shimmer/glisten in the pan. They did not stick at either temperature. Thanks everyone for all your tips!!!
post #17 of 38
I have the same problem where I work. One of my chef's told me to use a small amount of water. Start with smoking hot oil, place egg in. Turn off heat, cook till the edges have set. Put a small amount of water in the pan and then place another pan of same size on top. Then check untill cooked.

For what ever reason it works great for me, can flip egg with out any problems.
post #18 of 38
Take your egg-frying pan and bring it to heat, then pour about 1/4-cup kosher salt into it and, using a folded paper towel, rub the salt into the metal. Be sure to keep the pan hot.

This technique allows the metal pan to "open up" and the salt rub helps to clean the pits and cracks.

While the salt & pan is hot, paper-towel the salt into a trash bag. Using several fresh paper towels, wipe the metal pan nice and clean.

Return pan to flame and add 1 tbsp clarified butter. Swirl butter around pan.

Add room temperature egg to the hot pan and as soon as the white sets, begin to shake the egg loose.

If the egg does not break loose, discard and begin the salt process all over again.

Now, about room temperature eggs. There are several conflicts between good Sanitation practices and good cooking techniques. While the health folks may not "like" eggs being used at room temperature, doing so is not a health code violation.

Hope this helps.
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post #19 of 38
The reason your instructor said oil which has reached the smoke point loses its non-stick properties is because ... taa daa ... it does, at least somewhat. This is a result of "thermal degradation," a subject we don't want delve in too deeply because at the molecular level where it's interesting, it's also complicated and requires a lot of background knowledge to understand. Suffice it to say that water separates, some lubricating molecules burn off, others stay that don't flow as well etc. Another, more important property of oil taken beyond it's smoke point is that it's very bad for you. Lots of free-radicals -- carcinogens, you know. The smoke is also bad. More important than health or lubricant qualities, it tastes like crap.

Stainless is one of the more difficult materials to get slick for eggs. But it's doable.

You'll notice that the scratched and dinged areas are stickiest. Polished surfaces are a little easier than matte. One of the posts above describes using salt to polish the pan. Another describes scuffing the pan to create a surface that can accept being filled with the "glaze" that results from burning oil into the gaps in the pan's newly nubbly surface -- a process called "seasoning." The glaze is a completely smooth surface. Scuffing to smooth. Go figure. If you do scuff and season the pan, the pan will be good for searing, saute, browning, as well as eggs -- but it will have a fragile surface that requires special care. No dishwasher, either. I actually prefer carbon steel for these purposes because of its quick reaction times and greater ability to take a better season. Cheap too. Think of it as cast iron without the weight.

Going the other way -- polishing: Better than salt is baking soda. Better than baking soda is Barkeeper's friend.

If you are using a shiny stainless pan, or an aluminum pan, or an anodic aluminum pan:

1, Oil the cool pan extremely lightly, and wipe any excess off with a paper towel.

2. Bring the pan to temp at medium heat, and when at temp add a tsp of good vegetable oil. Swirl the pan to check for viscosity and coverage. The oil should flow very freely and there should be no voids in terms of coverage. The pan should be coated completely. If the oil moves slowly or you see holes in the oil, allow it to heat until the oil runs into the voids when you swirl it.

4. Remove the pan from the fire and add 1 - 2 tbs of butter and swirl. If the butter sizzles and immediately starts to brown, the pan is too hot. It will cool as you continue melting the butter off the flame. Once melted return the pan to the flame. But if the butter doesn't sizzle, the pan is a little too cold, melt the butter on the flame, swirling constantly. (Ideally, the butter will reach noisette just as the egg finishes.)

5. When the butter is completely melted, allow the foam to subside and add your egg(s). THIS IS KEY: As soon as the bottom of the egg(s) start to solidify try to break the egg(s) free by shaking or swirling the pan. If you can't break the eggs free by agitating the pan -- only then use your spatula. A thin, slotted, stainless spatula is your best bet with a fried egg in a stainless pan. Remember, you don't want to lift the egg yet, just break it free.

6. Once the eggs are moving, your home free. Move the pan now and then as the eggs cooks to keep them from sticking.

7. There's a reason short order cooks flip fried eggs by tossing them, instead of by spatula. If fried eggs are your life, it's a useful skill to learn ASAP. Practice on something easier, like old pancakes.

Hope this helps,
BDL
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post #20 of 38
If you ask me fried eggs are supposed to be cooked in butter and once the egg is dropped into the pan you turn down the gas to a medium low flame and cook the egg gently. If somebody doesn't like butter there's always poached eggs or soft or hard-cooked eggs. But I'm going to say there's no workaround to your rubbery egg whites problem because the problem comes with the cooking method...
post #21 of 38
what type of oil are you using?

you might be using an oil that has too low of a smoke point....
post #22 of 38
that i think most people that associate a well (not a well done cooked egg) cooked egg are used to a more modern method of having them cooked in nonstick cookery.
post #23 of 38

Cuidado !

Senor Escobar huh. Thats great! I don't know if your safe for some of us old schoolers tryn' to be in recovery to associate with.(Ha,ha) Sorry about being off topic, but I couldn't resist! Although I do agree with you, & might add, that there's no substitute (technique,flavor,or otherwise) for an egg cooked on a old, well seasoned, flat top skillet in some greek dinner. Ciao.
post #24 of 38
when i was doing agency work years ago, a kitchen I was sent to had a system that worked perfectly. (for a constant production of fried eggs over lunchtime) they used a deep, solid, generic frying pan and poured in a deep layer of sunflower oil. This was kept at a steady heat for the whole shift. Just below the temp it would start to burn. The eggs were "deep-fried" but gently and it worked every time. No turning, no browning,no bubbling, no sticking.
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post #25 of 38
The process he told me was 1) season the pan; 2) once cool, take a coarse steel wool to it and basically remove the visible seasoning out of the pan face; 3) clean the pan thoroughly of the grey steel/seasoning residue with hot water and towel only (no soap); 4) re-season the pan for a second time; 5) once cool, take a fine steel wool to the pan face; and 6) clean thoroughly with hot water and no soap. Then for ongoing care, never use soap on the pan--just wipe it out with hot water and a towel--and if needed, use some salt as a scrubbing agent. I just got through re-seasoning for the second time and need to take the fine steel wool to it now. Update to come!

I'm not clear on step #2 - "removing the visible seasoning residue." How much are you removing? At ths point are you marring the surface of the pan in addition to removing visible seasoning?
post #26 of 38
I would have also told you there is no point to "seaoning" a stainless pan. Tell your GM thanks for the info. That's hat I like best about this business and this forum, there's always something to learn.
post #27 of 38
Many yeqars ago before teflon and non stick pans we did this. Take pan wash it well fill it with 1/2 inch salt put it on open burner medium heat and cook till salt turns color, throw away salt wipe pan out with oil and put away. DO NOT before or after cooking eggs WASH PAN IN WATER simply wipe out and recoat with oil. Do not use margarine to cook eggs as it is normaly 50 % water. Many breakfast cooks hid their pans in their lockers when they went home so no one would wash them. We used steel pans, but stainless may work even though they are not the best even conductor of heat.
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post #28 of 38
Stainless won't season in the same way as carbon steel or cast iron. The same things that make it stainless are the things which prevent seasoning.

BDL
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post #29 of 38
I've never used a stainless pan to professionally cook eggs. Never. I haven't seen a kitchen in years that doesn't use Teflon. They might use steel for turns but not omelets. Not any more. But any steel pan can work with right amount of love and technique. I've made some pretty ratty pans work. In the old days we'd drop them in the fryer so we didn't have to babysit them. Come back and scrub them out with a green pad and some salt. Then stick them back in.

IMO the two most important factors are type of oil and quality of pan. Temperature of pan and egg are important but can be deviated from if the first two are on. A well loved pan with the right kind of oil can be loaded cold and still not stick. I'd rather load a pan too cool than too hot.

I wouldn't cook eggs professionally without either clarified butter or a Vegaline and oil mix. I've gotten by on a non stick spray but it's a pain in the ***. If I'm going to be busy I just spray the whole can in my oil pan. Even using Teflon.

Eggs can either be the easiest or hardest station in the kitchen. Especially if it's busy. If you're good, you stand in one spot all day and control the flow while everyone else runs around you. If you're not good, you are not in control and you're going to have one hellish day.
post #30 of 38
Me neither.

Haven't been in a professional kitchen in decades, but I choose to take this with a grain of salt. It may be true of places that crank a lot of breakfasts and brunches, but doubt the "not any" premise as to small ultra high end. If nothing else, they're quirky as all get out. Heaven knows what they get up to.

Agree to a point.

This is the point. I prefer to use regular butter. For one thing, the foam subsiding is a visible indication that the butter is ready. For another, it took me a long time to learn to time the egg to cook at the same moment the butter went noisette, but as it's a skill I have it's not a skill I'm going to eschew (gesundheit!).

Never use it.

Never worked in a kitchen which had one, the closest I've come is catering omelettes -- which goes to show our relative levels of experience. Yours is greater.

BDL
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