Anatomy of Ramen: Soy Sauce Eggs (Shoyu Tamago)

Anatomy of Ramen: Soy Sauce Eggs (Shoyu Tamago)


After returning home from a pretty bankrupting trip to Japan, it was difficult to fathom not going back. It felt like someone I loved had gone away forever. It was the kind of vacation experience you talk to people about in an overly emotional way while their eyes glaze over in boredom. No one ever understands, but that’s okay.

In an insane effort to retain my memories from Japan, I scurried around Miami shopping at every Asian and Japanese market I could find to purchase things that would make me feel like I was still there. I even bought Masu Boxes, which are traditional square sake cups that you’re supposed to pour sake into until they overflow as a symbol of good luck. It’s the Japanese equivalent of showing everyone how much of a baller you are.

Masu Sake Box Cup

They’re extremely awkward to drink from and for someone who constantly spills stuff all over their shirt, they’re probably the worst purchase I could possibly make. But it made me happy to remember.

The best thing I could do at this point was learn how to cook the food I had eaten in Japan. I suppose now is as good a time as any to mention that I just started cooking about six months ago. Since food memories are some of the most vivid memories, I was determined to make this work.

And as such, Shoyu Ramen was the first Japanese meal I learned to make. Pretty aggressive goal, huh?

This post will be the first of several posts of a new series you’ll find on this blog called Anatomy of Ramen. Ramen is made out of a million parts, or at least that what it feels like when you find yourself in the kitchen simmering chicken bones in a pot, boiling your noodles, blanching spinach and slicing bamboo shoots all at the same damn time. But each part is equally important into creating a memorable meal that leaves you sweaty, exhausted and totally fulfilled.

Anatomy of Ramen Drawing

Today, we’ll start off with my favorite part of ramen: Shoyu Tamago, or Soy Sauce Egg.

This egg is typically found sitting in a big bowl of steaming hot Japanese ramen, barely needing the poke of your chopstick to spew delicious, salty egg yolk all over your soup.

The soy sauce egg is not this mystic thing you can only get at a restaurant or made by some sort of Japanese Ramen God. They’re actually made with regular ol’ eggs found at the supermarket with regular ol’ ingredients you can get just about anywhere. They only require a couple of hours in a Soy Sauce Marinade that they’ll absorb to gain their magical powers.

And better yet – if you make yourself a big batch of soy sauce eggs, you can keep them all in your fridge for about a week. Making that the most awesome week ever.

This recipe is adapted from Japanese Soul Cooking by Tadashi Ono, which has been my guiding light in learning how to cook my favorite recipes at a really low difficulty level. It’s a fantastic book to help you understand the essence of real Japanese home cooking — in fact, I don’t think there’s a single sushi recipe in there.

Shoyu Tamago (Soy Sauce Egg)

Makes about 2 ¾ cups of marinade and 4 eggs.

Soy_Sauce_Eggs_Cook-1

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup sake (I like to keep a huge jug of cheap sake for these situations)
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
  • 2 scallions (about 2 ounces), trimmed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 ounce ginger, skin on, crushed

Instructions

Add all of the ingredients (minus the eggs) into a saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.

Remove from the heat and let the marinade come to room temperature.  Smell that, isn’t that deliciously potent?

Fill another saucepan with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat a little once it starts boiling.

Here’s a fun trick I didn’t know until I followed this recipe. Use a pushpin to gently open a small hole on the bottom of each egg (the rounded side is the bottom, not the pointy side). This helps loosen the egg white from the shell during cooking, making it easier to peel.

Soy_Sauce_Eggs-1

Gently (seriously, watch it, buddy) place the eggs in the boiling water.

Set a timer for 6 minutes.  These will be the most important 6 minutes of your life, so pay attention.

During the first 2 minutes, you have a critical job. Grab a chopstick or a spoon and spin the eggs around in the saucepan for the entirety of 2 minutes. The centrifugal force will make the yolks set in the center of the egg, making it the prettiest egg in the entire planet.

Hard boiling Eggs

During minutes 3 to 6, stare lovingly at your boiling eggs.

Once your timer beeps, pour out the boiling water and run cool water to cool the eggs.

When they’re cool (no cheating, your fingers will hate you), peel them.

Pour your marinade into a bowl along with your peeled eggs. Marinate them in your fridge for up to 12 hours. The longer they marinate, the more pronounced the soy sauce flavors. I’ve left them marinating in the fridge for 24 hours and no one died, so go nuts.

Soy_Sauce_Eggs-3

Soy_Sauce_Eggs-4

When you’re ready, slice the eggs longwise. Wow. Just, wow. 

Soy_Sauce_Eggs-6

Soy_Sauce_Eggs-8

  • xfoxbatx

    i can’t help but notice that the yolk on these came out a bit gooey. is that achieved by only boiling them for 6 minutes? do they remain the same consistency even after being in the fridge for 12 hours?

    • Elly

      Six minutes is the sweet spot, but you may need to adjust the timing a little if you’re not getting the desired yolky result (because science and life and things that happen.) Just make sure you add the eggs only AFTER the water has boiled, not before. The consistency should stay nice and gooey after 12 hours (and for several days after – they’ll keep for a week!) Let me know how it turns out.

  • Melissa Lim

    These look amazing~ <3 I have a question though: is it possible to reuse the same marinade for eggs after the first batch, and how long does it keep?

    • Elly

      Yes, you can totally reuse the marinade (as long as you didn’t have any yolk spillage from the first batch.) Marinade will keep for a month in the fridge, eggs will keep for a week.

      • Melissa Lim

        Made my first batch of shoyu tamago with your recipe, and WHOA! The yolks are simply perfect, just right with the hint of runny yolk, and I love how the garlic and ginger flavoured the eggs along with the usual shoyu. Thank you so much for the recipe—it’s a keeper alright!

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  • Zeldamonsuperwholock Origami

    YES! Finally found this recipe.

  • Jennifer

    Noticed the bottle of aji-mirin, is that an “extra” ingredient or just photobombing? Just wondering, because I have some sitting around.

    Tried the recipe, had to make do with dried ground ginger, which obviously changed the flavor considerably but it was still really good 🙂 Thank you!

    • Hey Jennifer, glad to hear they came out great despite the ginger swap. Nice catch on the mirin – if I have any around, I’ll pour about 1/4 cup of it into the marinade for the eggs. Do it!

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  • Xinyi Zhu

    can i swap the sake with another ingredient? 😮

    • You can probably just omit the sake entirely. It’s subtle enough that you shouldn’t miss it if you decide you don’t want to use it.

      • Xinyi Zhu

        Sweet! Good to know. I ended up buying a bottle anyway for future use! I made the eggs yesterday and they are marinating in the fridge. Can’t wait to try them when i make miso ramen tomorrow! And on that note, how should I reheat the eggs? 😀

        • If you have the time, I prefer to leave them out until they reach room temperature. When they’re in the soup, they’ll warm up.

          If you don’t have the time, stick ’em in the microwave for a few seconds (make sure to slice them in half first!)

          • Xinyi Zhu

            Sweet! Thanks so much! I’ll let you know how they turns out. 🙂 Thank you!!!

    • Benjamin Zuckerman

      You can use sherry. It isn’t ‘exactly’ the same, but it is REALLY good, as it has s similar level of sweetness.

  • Bigblack1x

    When searching for recipes, I almost always skip the copy and scroll straight to the ingredients and instructions. I’m SO glad I read your entire article. You are HILARIOUS!! I learned and laughed at the same time. Thank you so very much!!

  • Ian Balisy

    Great recipe! Funny and informative, I’ve used it several times now and always get perfect ramen eggs. Thank you!

    I also noticed the mirin in the picture and decided to try it. Depending on the type of ramen your favorite shop makes, the eggs will either be made with a marinade such as this one, or they will use the braising liquid rendered from making chashu pork. I’ve found that I prefer using the braising liquid method but I simply don’t make chashu pork that often. In an effort to get the same flavor, my marinade just adds 1/2 cup of mirin to the marinade and an extra clove of garlic. Hope others have had as much fun with this recipe as I have and thanks again!

  • Vsrdwn

    Thanks so much for sharing this recipe! It was delicious and the yolk turned out beautifully. So pleased, I’m making more tonight 🙂

  • Lori

    I have been using this recipe for several months now, and it is great. My fiancé, who has visited Japan, loves these eggs – and I do, too! I find that the flavor is best after 3 days of marinating, though. 1 day and the eggs have barely absorbed the juice; 2 days you almost have the richness; but day 3 is like the magic day. Thank you for sharing this beautiful treat with us!!

    • Holly Roberts

      Do you serve these warm or cold?

      • Room temperature is ideal, they’ll warm up in the soup anyway. I usually take them out of the fridge and let them reach room temp before I eat them. Cold is no fun, but that’s just me. 🙂

    • Hey Lori, that’s awesome. Not sure if I can stay patient enough to wait 3 days, but sounds like it’s definitely worth it!

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  • Kathy

    Just made the first batch of tamago. If I save the leftover marinade, should I discard the ginger, garlic and green onion? Seems like it would be too strong if I let it sit in the fridge. Thanks! Also is there a “Print” button just to print the recipe, w/o photos?

  • Great recipe! Going to try this right away. Love shoyu tamago!

  • Jason Yeoh

    I resonated strongly with your first paragraph, I really really miss Japan and I rarely miss things, people or places.

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  • eat.veggies

    I’ve just put the eggs in to marinate, but I wanted to say that the pin hole method for boiling eggs has changed my life for the better! The concoction smells delicious and I anticipate eggy goodness in a few days.

  • Audrina Chua

    Just made the eggs and they came out perfect. Soft but solid whites and runny yolk, except I massacred them when I was trying to peel the shells. Any tips on how best to peel them without butchering them? I already pierced the shells and tried to be gentle, but that didn’t seem to help.