Recently, I read an article on egg cooking techniques in Aug 2014 Cook’s Illustrated, p. 16 (yes, I know it’s still July, but it was on the newsstand at my local Whole Foods). The article was entitled, How To Cook Perfect Eggs. By and large, it was a good article, but I thought the section on foolproof soft-cooked egg seemed a little inelegant. Essentially, the method was to steam eggs in about 1/2″ of water (you’re required to measure 1/2″ of water before starting vs just having steam in the pot). Mark Bittman also considered this issue here –
http://www.thebittenword.com/thebittenword/2013/02/foolproof-soft-boiled-eggs.html (note the date of Feb 2013).
So given what I know about chawanmushi, I thought, why couldn’t I just steam the eggs instead of having them sit in hot water and cooked with the steam at the
same time? So I began by trying (on high heat steam) one egg at 8 minutes, and that resulted in a hard boiled egg, and 6 minutes (on high heat steam) which yielded the soft boiled egg I was expecting (eggspecting?). My wife generally makes hard boiled eggs in cooking them submerged in boiling water, but she said she liked the ‘moistness’ of the yolk in the steam hard cooked eggs that I made.
I’ll retry this technique when I next visit my folks and cook breakfast for them. That means I will be using at least 4 eggs for this technique. My folks have a similar steamer and I bet I could fit a dozen eggs in that steamer. If I’m right, it’ll mean steaming really is the way to go for this issue.