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Egg Whites

Irma R., a novice home cook, turns to F&W's Tina Ujlaki with her kitchen questions. This month, the topic is egg whites: keeping omelets moist and making crisp, satiny meringues.

Question

Dear Tina,

I went to Campton Place in San Francisco and had an egg white omelet that was so good that I realized not all egg white omelets need to be either dry and rubbery or wet. But how can I possibly do it? Yours gratefully, Irma

Answer

Dear Irma,

Like whole egg omelets, those made with the whites alone dry out when they cook for too long at too high a heat. Or they can get rubbery if you don't whisk them long enough to break them up. A wet omelet can be caused by one of three things—adding too much liquid to the whites (you don't need any), using wet fillings (raw tomatoes or soggy spinach) or undercooking. I called Campton Place chef Laurent Manrique and he gave me his fail-safe method. He has two secrets—first he beats a little melted butter into the egg whites before they go into the pan, and when the omelet is almost set, he runs it under the broiler to set the top without overcooking the bottom. If you're concerned about calories and cholesterol, omit secret number one but follow Manrique's broiler method. Best, Tina

Question

Dear Tina,

I get annoyed whenever I make meringues, which I adore. However billowy or firm the whites get, they deflate when I beat in the sugar. Can you help? Yours, Irma

Answer

Dear Irma,

When the recipe calls for beating in the sugar, be patient. You have to add it very gradually in order to preserve the lofty, silky texture of the egg white foam. Best, Tina

Published April 2003
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