There’s much debate over the best way to fry an egg, and while we prefer some methods to others, there’s no one right or wrong way to do it. But if you want to take your fried eggs to the next level, we recommend cooking them in spiced oil. This technique requires two steps: blooming your spice(s) of choice in hot oil, then using that oil to baste eggs while they cook, which yields a perfectly crispy and ultra-flavorful fried egg.
Like most ingredients, spices (particularly ground ones), lose their flavor with time. To get the most out of your spice cabinet, we recommend buying high-quality whole spices, and using them as often as possible—we love the single-origin spices from Burlap & Barrel.
To release their flavor, whole spices can either be toasted in a cast iron skillet or “bloomed” in hot oil. Some spices contain fat-soluble flavor compounds that are only released when they’re cooked in oil, which gives you the added bonus of an infused oil you can use for cooking and/or drizzling over a dish, or saving for later. This technique is also a great way to revive older spices that have lost some of their flavor.
Fried eggs are a great way to put this trick to use. Here’s how to do it:
Fried Eggs with Skillet-Bloomed Spices
Heat a few tablespoons of oil over medium-low heat in a cast iron skillet. You can use whatever oil you like, and ghee works as well. We don’t recommend blooming spices in butter, as the butter can quickly burn.
Add your spices of choice. Any ground spice, or whole spice you’d typically eat without grinding (like mustard seeds) will work. For frying eggs, we like using chile flakes and/or turmeric, and we’re particularly fond of to Black Urfa Chili, thanks to its combination of salty, sour, and umami flavors.
Let the spices sizzle in the hot oil until they become very fragrant, and the oil starts to sputter around the spices a bit. This can take as little as 30 seconds, and spices can burn fairly quickly, so keep a close eye on them.
Add your eggs to the pan. (When frying eggs, it’s often easiest to crack them into a liquid measuring cup or bowl first, and then gently pour them into the pan. This prevents any shell from falling into the skillet, and it will also give a better shape to the finished egg.)
Let the eggs cook for a minute or two, until the whites have become opaque on the bottom and the edges are starting to crisp. The top of the white will not be cooked yet.
Using a small spoon, scoop up some of the hot, spiced oil and pour it over the top of the eggs (if you’re having trouble scooping up the oil, tilt the pan so the oil pools to one side). Baste the eggs with the oil until the whites are set on top, paying attention to any areas that appear raw. If you’d prefer your yolks a little more cooked through, let the eggs sit in the pan longer; if you’re a fan of the runny yolks (we are!), remove the eggs once the whites are fully set.
If you’re serving your eggs with bread or rice, you can fry those in the spiced oil as well! (Crispy, spicy rice with a fried egg on top? Don’t mind if we do.) You can also run your leftover spiced oil through a strainer and save it for later; it makes a great addition to salad dressings or marinades.