Shoyu Tamago (Soy Sauce Eggs)

One thing I learned about while living in Japan was relentless repetition in pursuit of perfection. You do something again and again and again and again, until it is imprinted in every fiber of your being, and then you do it some more. Perfection can never be reached, but it’s possible to get pretty damn close if you do something every day for decades. (Watch Jiro Dreams of Sushi and you’ll get the idea.)

I started pursuing hard-boiled egg perfection in Japan. And while I’ll never be able to say I’ve reached it, I think I’ve gotten pretty damn close.

If you want to make the perfect hard-boiled egg, buy the best large eggs you can afford. Keep them in the refrigerator for at least a week. (Older eggs are much easier to peel.) Place however many eggs you want to boil in a pot and cover them with at least an inch of cold water. Bring the water to a boil, turn off the heat, cover the pot and let the eggs sit for 7 to 10 minutes. I like the slightly-soft-in-the-middle yolk of the 7-minute egg; if you like your yolk firmly cooked, let your egg sit for the full 10. Pour out the hot water and run the eggs under cold water until cooled.

Repeat each morning for breakfast and every day you will be a little closer to perfection.

You also might be a little sick of plain hard-boiled eggs. So I present shoyu tamago, or soy sauce eggs, which are dressed up with a mixture of soy sauce, rice vinegar and sugar. They’re a little salty, a little sour and a little sweet — not nearly as intense as a pickled egg, but with some of the same charms.

Shoyu tamago are a staple of Japanese lunchboxes, but they also make a great snack, or accompaniment to a beer or white wine spritzer. Or maybe two spritzers, if you’re pursuing white wine spritzer perfection. Not that I’d know anything about that.


Shoyu Tamago (Soy Sauce Eggs)

Yield: 3 eggs

{ Ingredients }

3 hard-boiled eggs
3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar

{ Directions }

Carefully peel the hard-boiled eggs. In a small pot, combine the soy sauce, vinegar and sugar and bring to a simmer over medium heat, swirling the pot occasionally to make sure the sugar is dissolved. Add the eggs and use a spoon to roll them around in the mixture, until the eggs are a uniform cappuccino-brown color.

Remove the egg from the pot and let cool slightly before eating.

• Use tamari for a gluten-free tamari tamago.

• Once made, the eggs will keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.

• This recipe makes 3 eggs, but you can make more than that; just add 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon sugar for every additional egg.