How to Be Gentle and Firm

The Kitchn’s Cooking School
Lesson 4

I had planned to move on to the poultry lesson this week on the blog. The only thing I had left to do was to write about it. But I am now in Germany for a vacation and realized two days ago that I had forgotten to bring the photos for the post with me. So we’ll hear about what I’ve learned about cooking chicken in two weeks.

This gives me a chance, however, to not skip out on telling you about this fun but unnecessary skill I’ve almost mastered in my Bangkok kitchen: cracking an egg with one hand. The Kitchn’s Cooking School actually includes a video on this in the egg lesson. It is the perfect prelude to practicing making an omelette or scrambled eggs or anything that doesn’t require the yolk to maintain its shape as it cooks, you know, just in case you screw up.

Before I even began practicing this most essential of culinary skills, I searched YouTube for the Paris culinary school scene in the classic romantic comedy Sabrina, starring Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. In this hilarious scene, a colorful French teacher shows the class how to crack an egg. His philosophy with eggs, or anything with a heart, is that we must be merciful when it comes time to kill or crack it. So cracking an egg must be swift—like the guillotine—and done with one hand. “It’s all in the wrist,” he says.

It’s a great comedic scene if not the best culinary tutorial video. In the scene, everyone cracks an egg on the rim of the bowl instead of on a flat surface. And if you want to be gentle with anything with a heart, handle them with both your hands, handle them with all you’ve got.

But sometimes, when one hand is all you’ve got in the kitchen, then you have to train that hand to be both gentle and firm at the same time.

I used to crack an egg on the rim of bowls, pans, and pots until I saw a video that teaches you that the best way is to crack it on a flat surface. I haven’t gone back to my old way since. I used to be much gentler with eggs, too, knocking them gently on the kitchen counter several times before spreading open the shell with both hands, sometimes getting bits of the eggshell in the mix.

I’ve gained two things from practicing to crack an egg with one hand. One is learning to hold the egg horizontally, not vertically like I used to. Two is to hit the egg firmly enough on the counter so that you only need to do it once. That one big clean crack makes it much easier for your fingers to pry apart the shell and allows the egg to keep its perfect shape when it drops into the bowl.

Anyway, fun stuff.

You can check out the videos of me practicing cracking eggs with one hand on Instagram.

Also, check out this interesting video by Buzzfeed on how to crack an egg with one hand. It’s a bit different from what’s taught in The Kitchn’s video.

And here’s another adorable scene from Sabrina, this time about the soufflé, which is in The Kitchn’s egg lesson and something I want to make as soon as I can get my hands on a good soufflé dish.


Featured image by Oliver Zenglein from Unsplash