How to make ajitsuke tamago, or Japanese marinated soft boiled eggs

How to make ajitsuke tamago, or Japanese marinated soft boiled eggs
PHOTO: The Straits Times

These delicious eggs are called ajitsuke tamago or nitamago.

They can be maddening to get right. Many, many eggs were sacrificed in this quest for easy-to-peel nitamago with squidgy yolks that are liquid in the centre. I like them this way because a completely liquid yolk will just spill out when you cut the eggs in half.

The most important tip for success is to "age" the eggs for at least six days before cooking. Older eggs are easier to peel.

Ajitsuke tamago (Japanese marinated soft boiled eggs)


- 6 eggs, each weighing about 60g, at room temperature
- 150ml water
- 150ml sake
- 150ml mirin
- 75ml shoyu
- 1.2 litres of water


1. Buy the eggs six to seven days before you want to cook them.

Photo: The Straits Times

2. On the day of cooking, pour the water, sake, mirin and shoyu into a small saucepan set over medium heat. Bring the marinade to a gentle boil, turn off the heat, take the pan off the stove and let cool completely. Heating the marinade burns off some of the alcohol, allowing the shoyu flavour to come through.

3. Bring 1.2 litres of water to boil over medium high heat in a small pot. I used one that is about 16cm in diameter. Set a timer for six minutes.

Read also: 4 quick tips to cooking perfect eggs for breakfast

4. Using a thumbtack, make a small hole in the rounded, fatter end of the egg. The thumbtack should just break the shell. Do not drive it right into the egg.

Photo: The Straits Times

5. When the water comes to a rolling boil, carefully place the eggs in the pot. I used silicone-tipped tongs but a slotted spoon will also work.

6. Start the timer when all the eggs are in and let them cook uncovered over medium high heat.

7. With three minutes remaining, make a ice bath for the eggs.

Read also: A step-by-step guide to making the perfect Eggs Benedict

8. For eggs with a soft, fudgy yolk, cook for the full six minutes. For eggs with yolks that are fudgy on the outside and liquid in the middle, cook for five minutes and 45 seconds. For eggs that have more runny yolks and with whites that are just barely set on the inside, cook for five minutes and 30 seconds.

9. Turn off the heat and transfer the eggs to the ice bath. Let them sit for five minutes.

10. Using the back of a teaspoon, gently crack the shells. Place each egg back in the ice bath after they are cracked. When they are all done, start peeling them, making sure you remove the membrane.

Read also: 2 quick and mess-free ways to peel hard-boiled eggs

11. Pour the cooled marinade into a container that will hold the eggs snugly. Place the eggs in the marinade.

12. Fold a paper towel into quarters and submerge it in the marinade, making sure it is totally soaked in the liquid. The paper towel will stop the eggs from bobbing up. Cover the container and marinate in the fridge for four to eight hours. The longer you soak, the tougher the whites become. Discard the marinade. If not using immediately, store the eggs in a covered container in the fridge for up to three days. Warm the eggs in ramen broth before using, or in warm water if eating as a snack.

This article was first published on Nov 05, 2016.
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