If I asked you, “When do you add salt to your scrambled eggs?” You may not even understand the solution. Do you add it once you whisk the eggs, when they’re in the pan, or whenever they’re about the plate along with your bread has sprung up from the toaster? Perhaps it’s so instinctual that you can not remember. Or perhaps it’s so arbitrary that it depends on the day!
Whether you’re set in your way or living in the moment, salting early (that is, the moment you whisk the eggs together), could lead to creamy scrambled eggs that are milder, lusher, and evenly seasoned.
As J. Kenji López-Alt explains in his novel The Food Lab, salt inhibits the proteins in the egg yolks from binding too tightly as they heat up, which results in a moister, more tender curd:”When eggs cook and coagulate,” he writes,”the proteins in the yolks pull tighter and tighter together as they get hotter. When they get too tight, they begin to squeeze liquid out from the curds, resulting in eggs that weep in a most embarrassing manner.” By reducing the attraction between proteins, salt decreases this risk. For super soft however not-watery eggs, López-Alt recommends salting quite early (as in, 15 minutes before you begin to cook!) So that the crystals can dissolve in the mixture for the greatest effect and many even distribution.
Ever the skeptic, I created two strands of scrambled eggs side by side. To one bowl, I added salt 15 minutes beforehand; to another, I whisked in precisely the same amount just before I started cooking. While the eggs out of both pans were fine and sweet –medium-low heat, a good skillet , and plenty of fat will do that for you–I could still taste the difference. The eggs which were pre-salted were eggier (thanks to the salt having time to dissolve and thoroughly season the eggs) and softer.
From today on, I’ll salt my eggs when I whisk them instead of simply sprinkling Diamond Crystal over a hot pan. I really don’t know if I have it in me to wait 15 moments (as I don’t ), but five seems like the ideal amount of time to get the coffee going.