Add a tiny bit of oil to the skillet and turn the heat up to high. The higher the heat, the faster our pan heats up. We will lower it later when we cook the egg.
You don’t need too much oil here. Just a thin layer to coat the surface of the pan. The primary purpose of the oil is to prevent the egg from sticking to the pan, not to fry the egg in the oil.
Once you have the oil in the pan, use your spatula to spread it around. Tilting the pan won’t make this small amount of oil coat all surfaces evenly, so use your spatula.
You can either hold a hand over the pan (it should give off a great deal of warmth) or sprinkle a tiny drop of water over the pan (be careful, as this could make the oil pop and splatter if you have too much oil). If the water fizzles, then your pan is ready.
Tap the egg on a hard surface. I like to use the edge of the pan because it “cuts” into the egg cleanly.
Then pull open the eggshells. Do this as low over the pan as you can. You should hear a satisfying sizzle. This indicates your pan is at a good temperature.
Lower the heat to “medium low” so our egg doesn’t cook too fast and burn. You want to give it some time to let the top of the egg set.
What “medium low” means depends on the type of stove you have.
If you have a gas stove (the kind with the blue flame), the easiest way to judge the strength of your flame is to just look at it. Squat down to peek at the flames at eye-level. Don’t rely on the stove dial only. You’re looking for small flames that are still fairly visible, but not shooting out ferociously from the center of the heating element.
If you have an electric stove, judging the heat level is slightly trickier. You basically have to cook with it a lot and “learn” its temperature range. But basically, just fiddle with the dial, then wait, then fiddle with it some more. Do this until the egg looks like it’s sizzling happily and not getting too brown at the edges.
If you want a sunny side up egg (no flipping), put a lid over the skillet to trap some of the steam and help the top of the egg cook.
If you want an egg over easy (flipped), wait until the top of the egg white looks mostly set. It should be opaque white instead of gooey transparent. Then, gently slide the spatula underneath the egg. If the egg slides away from you, use sudden quick motions to get your spatula all the way under the egg. The key to a clean flip is making sure the egg’s center of gravity is squarely on the spatula.
This is the part that’s entirely up to you: how long you want the egg to cook.
Longer means the yolk becomes firmer and less creamy.
Shorter means you get a runny, creamy yolk that can almost act like a “sauce” for mixing with rice, veggies, etc.
To test the doneness of the yolk, gently poke the thick part of the egg (that’s where the yolk is). You can easily tell this way how set the yolk is.
If it’s cooking too slowly, ease the heat up higher.
Scoop the egg out with a spatula.
Now here’s the fun part: decide what to do with your fried egg. Here are some ideas:
Of course you could also just eat it on its own, but even then, you can decorate it with a bit of salt, pepper, spices, ketchup, etc.
Have fun and enjoy your perfect fried egg!