Saturday, January 16, 2010

How To - Egg Molds

In the Sandwich Bento I posted yesterday, I included a hardboiled egg shaped like a fish. Getting a molded egg to turn out correctly can be a little tricky, because it requires timing and a little patience, but the result can really add a neat element to your lunch!

These are egg molds, and came in a two pack. The same maker also has a bunny and bear two pack out there, and I believe these 4 shapes are the most commonly seen in recent bento pictures in various communities.

This is one of the molds opened up. On the left is the tab that fastens the two halves together. In the middle is the hinge, which also lets the two sides separate for cleaning. Inside the molds you can see the ridges which stamp features into the eggs.

These are two slightly different types of egg molds, and are probably the second most common. These don't have a hinge like the previous ones, but have a tab on each side. I think this makes it a little easier to get the mold to close properly around the egg. Also, though this photo doesn't show it, each of these has a teeny hole in the back to help drain moisture out.

There are also significantly smaller molds out there, meant for quail eggs. I have one of those molds, but since I haven't been able to locate quail eggs in my small Midwestern city, I haven't been able to try it. I understand the process for using them is very much the same, but since I haven't done it personally, I can't guarantee it for those.

To use the molds, the first thing you need is a fresh boiled egg* out of its shell. And by fresh, I mean just finished cooking and run under just enough cold water to keep my fingers from melting when I peel it.

When the egg is really hot, you'll find that peeling the shell is more difficult than when the egg is cool. This is where the patience comes in. Don't try and force big amounts of the shell off at one time, or else you'll end up tearing your egg - which will taste the same, but won't look as cute. Also, you'll also notice that the egg is somewhat pliable when hot. This is good! The more pliable, the better that your molded egg will turn out.

When you have the egg peeled, place it in the mold in the direction that makes the most sense. This fish is more or less oval shaped, like an egg, but since the mouth of the fish is a little pointier than the tail, I put the pointier end of the egg in that side. For the previously mentioned heart and star molds, I've actually had the best results by putting the egg on its end instead of lengthwise.

You can also see that my egg is pretty much the same size as the mold. That is a good thing! To get the best mold, you'll want an egg that is a tight fit, but not too large for the mold. In American markets, eggs tend to come packaged in various sizes, such as Medium, Large, and Extra Large (this is probably true for other countries as well, but since I have never gone egg shopping out of the country, I couldn't say where). Here, I'm using a large egg, and have had the best results with that size. I am thinking of experimenting with extra large eggs with the heart and star molds, since a large egg gives an "ok" but not "great" result.

Also, some people prefer to give the molds a little spritz with a cooking spray before placing the egg inside. This may help if you have problems removing the egg.

Once the egg is placed in the mold, carefully and slowly close the top. If you close it too fast, more egg may get stuck in the middle, and you may not get the egg to fill all of the corners of the mold. If you see the egg start to escape the mold, you can use a finger to carefully poke it inwards. When the mold is closed, use the tab to fasten it.

Now, place the mold in the fridge and let it sit. I usually do a few eggs at a time, so mine chill for overnight or longer. If you're in a hurry and need the egg for a bento in the next hour or so, try placing it in a bowl of ice water in the fridge. In order for the egg to keep its shape, you want to make sure the egg is completely cooled before you remove it from the mold.

Here's my egg the next morning! Be sure to be slow and careful in removing the egg from the mold, since the egg may want to stick to some of the detailing. You can see that I had a little egg spillover, so once I remove the egg from the mold, I would trim the excess with a sharp knife.

And, here's the finished result!

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