Traditionally, fried eggs are eaten for breakfast, preferred by most people at the weekend, as a special treat, but they can also be enjoyed as a light lunch or evening meal any day of the week.
Other popular ways to eat fried eggs are in a sandwich or soft bread roll, served on top of hot buttered toast, accompanying French fries or even topping off a beef burger or served alongside another piece of meat.
Frying an egg is very straightforward, however, there are a number of factors to consider, such as which type of pan to use, whether to cook the egg in oil or butter and whether or not to serve the eggs sunny side up or flip them over and cook the underside.
After considering all of the above, one must always remember to never ever serve a guest a fried egg that has a broken yolk and which has begun to solidify.
A perfectly fried egg has a neat round opaque white, that has not spread out in the pan (fresh eggs less than 5 days old from the packaging date are ideal) and has a high rounded yolk that sits regally in the middle of the white. The best part of eating a fried egg is breaking the yolk and watching the yellow liquid slowly spill over the rest of the egg. This is then carefully mopped up with a piece of fried bread or toast.
For frying an egg a non-stick frying pan is best for two reasons. Firstly, you will need less fat, which is obviously healthier for you, plus you won't have to blot or drain the fat off the egg afterwards. Secondly, during cooking the egg doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan and it slides out of the pan easily after cooking.
Regarding the choice of fat used for frying the egg, this is mainly a case of preference in taste. A light vegetable oil is probably the best, so that the taste of the egg is not affected by the flavouring of the oil. However, butter may also be used, although the egg should be cooked at a lower heat so that the butter does not burn.
You might also like to try another type of oil, lard or bacon fat, which actually works extremely well. Olive oil is a healthy option but gives a strong flavour to the egg.
Once you have decided upon your choice of fat, only a little needs to be added to the pan, approximately 1 tablespoon per egg. Then, the fat should be heated on a medium - hot heat for several minutes in order to get it up to the optimum frying temperature. If the fat is not hot enough, the eggs will spread out in the pan and take longer to cook, causing them to become rubbery. If you are going to use butter, heat up the pan first and then add the butter, so that it melts immediately but doesn't burn.
When you add the eggs to the pan, it is best to crack each egg on the side of the pan and let the egg slide gently into the pan. This is best done as close to the bottom of the pan as possible, so that the eggs retain a nice rounded shape and do not spread out too much.
The eggs may be fried for a couple of minutes or until the whites are firm and then served sunny side up. On the other hand, after frying one side, you might want to flip the egg over carefully with a spatula and gently fry the underside for around 20 - 30 seconds.