What Are Jammy Eggs and Why Are They So Popular All of a Sudden?
“There was…simply cooked rice, jammy eggs, vegetables tossed with scallions, a bowl of greens dressed with lemon, and a creamy yogurt dip for spreading on crackers,” writes Alison Roman, recounting a memorable lunch in a recent post in The New York Times.
“If AIM still existed we would make our screen name ‘JaMmYEgGLuVr,” quips a Bon Appetit Instagram post.
With a unique preparation and a distinct gooey-yolk mug shot, the 'jammy' egg has emerged as a category unto itself alongside fried and soft-boiled. There's no doubt about it: 2019 is the year of the jammy egg.
OK, it's not totally ubiquitous yet—your local diner will probably be confused if you order jammy eggs with a side of bacon, but the term has undeniably (and fiercely) crept into the vernacular of the food writer/Instagrammer/enthusiast.
But what, exactly, are jammy eggs?
We turned to recipe guru Alison Roman for some insight. “The term refers to an egg that has a center that’s not super runny, but it’s also not set," she told us. “The texture is literally like when you open a jar of jam or marmalade: kind of sticky, definitely a spoonable texture.”
Roman makes a batch of jammy eggs by bringing a pot of water to a boil, adding the eggs and cooking them uncovered for six to seven minutes—depending on the size of the pot and the number of eggs. Finally, she drains them and rinses them under cold water to make them easier to peel.
“If we’re being technical, a jammy egg is somewhere between a soft and medium egg,” Roman said. And as for the jammy egg's mysterious origin? “I don’t know where the term comes from, but it sounds British to me.”
Funnily enough, chef Nick Korbee of New York City-based restaurant Egg Shop also thinks the term seems British. “Maybe it’s just the word ‘jammy.’ It makes me think of toast, and I can hear someone saying it in a really elevated London accent,” he said. “Scratch that, it definitely has its origin in the song ‘Pump Up the Jam’ by Technotronic. If you look hard enough I’m pretty sure there’s someone hyping in the background saying ‘Jammy egg! Jammy egg!’”
All serious etymological questions aside, a couple considerations probably play into the rise of the jammy egg.
Roman recalls first spotting spoonable eggs smack in the center of a bowl of ramen. And Korbee conjectures that ramen is a major player: “Ramen has become fan food, big-time. It’s like the soup version of pizza,” he said. “You don’t really see any dish, as a rule, that has the egg split open yolk-side up like a ramen egg. The only other thing I can think of is a deviled egg, which is filled.”
While Tony Kim, executive chef of Momofuku Noodle Bar, reminds us that the texture of ramen eggs does vary regionally, his team started throwing around the word "jammy" in the summer of 2018 when they were opening up their Columbus Circle location.
“We were thinking about editing ramen to its essentials and just including the egg yolk,” Kim said. “We take the yolk gently from the white and slowly and gently heat it in oil until it reaches the consistency we’re looking for—jammy is the closest word we could think of.”
Indeed, Sarah Schneider, one of the founders Egg Shop, points out we’re living in a yolk-friendly age. “People used to be really scared of the yolk. They thought you could only eat so much yolk because it was high in cholesterol,” she said.
Roman, Korbee and Schneider all emphasized that jammy eggs are easy—not to mention really darn cheap—to whip up at home. If you like your yolks a little runnier, or a little harder, no sweat: Simply adjust your cooking time.
We’ll let you decide whether you want to crown your avocado toast, bejewel your grain bowl or get wild with everything bagel seasoning ala Tieghan Gerard’s everything spice egg avocado yogurt bowl. Just promise us one thing: You’ll say “jammy eggs” in a British accent at least once.