A soft boiled egg is an egg which has been boiled for a brief period of time, so that the white is mostly cooked and the yolk is partially cooked and very runny. This cooking technique is intended to be used for eggs which will be consumed immediately, as these eggs do not keep well and they can be vulnerable to bacterial contamination.
Soft boiled eggs are extremely easy to make, and the quick cooking time makes them a useful way to get protein rapidly in the morning, for people who are trying to eat well before dashing off to work and other obligations. Eggs are generally good for nutrition, especially when they come from healthy chickens who have been eating varied diets, as the birds will pass on the vitamins and minerals they consume.
To make a soft boiled egg, place as many eggs as you wish to boil in a heavy saucepan, and cover them in water. Heat the saucepan on medium to high heat until it starts to boil, and then reduce the heat so that the eggs simmer. After two to five minutes, pull the eggs out and serve them immediately. The varying cooking times will produce eggs with very runny yolks to more firmer-yolked soft boiled eggs; you may develop your own soft boiled egg preference over time, in which case you might want to specify cooking times when someone is preparing soft boiled eggs for you. If you want some hard boiled eggs for later, leave them in the water for another 10-13 minutes after you remove the soft boiled eggs.
It can be challenging to eat a soft boiled egg without an egg cup, since the eggs cannot be peeled and eaten like hard boiled eggs, as this will cover the consumer in runny yolk. An egg cup is a small cup which has been designed to cradle an egg. The consumer can use a spoon to gently tap off the top of the soft boiled egg, exposing the inside, which may be sprinkled with salt, pepper, and other seasonings to taste. Typically the inside is scooped out with a spoon.
The cooking process used to make soft boiled eggs will kill off all but the most stubborn bacteria, as even though the yolk is not solidified, it has been warmed. You can reduce the risk of bacterial contamination by washing the egg before cooking it. Many people also like to pierce their eggs before boiling them to reduce the risk of cracking and potential explosions, although this is not necessary if the eggs have been slowly brought to temperature with the boiling water.