Hard-boiled eggs are delicious and nutritious- why not make them cute as well? For years we have been relegated to boring old oval eggs, but thanks to one wonderfully convenient bento tool, we can now shape eggs into hearts, stars, fish, bunnies, cars, and a litany of other random but adorable shapes.
The tool: an egg mold. It is basically a plastic device that clamshells over a hard-boiled egg or a two-part mold that snaps around it.
Where Can I Find Hard-Boiled Egg Molds?
These useful bento accessories can be found most easily at bento supply stores and places that sell miscellaneous Japanese products. My favourite sources of hard-boiled egg molds are Ichiban Kan
in San Francisco's Japantown
, because at those stores, prices are extremely reasonable (A set of two typical costs $1.50). There are several Daiso stores spotted around the greater Bay Area, and many regions have their own little Japanese-related shops, so do a bit of snooping in your area and see if you can find a place.
These egg molds can also be purchased online. The most obvious supplier I can think of are J-List
(they specialise in all things Japan- including bento supplies), however hard-boiled egg molds can also be purchased on very mainstream sites such as Amazon and Ebay.
How to Use A Hard-Boiled Egg Mold
Hard-boiled egg molds are extremely easy to use. Simply hard-boil your eggs as you always do (I like to put the eggs in a pot filled with water, bring it to a boil, turn off the heat, cover, and let the eggs sit for fifteen minutes), peel them immediately when they are done, slip them into the molds, and let them sit in your refrigerator for at least an hour (I get lazy and have them sit overnight).
After the eggs have cooled, they'll conform to the mold and stick in the mold's random, adorable shape! When you're ready, simply un-clasp the mold and your adorable, protein-packed snacks will pop right out.
A note about egg sizes: stay away from extra large and jumbo! Egg molds tend to run on the small size, so larger eggs tend to overflow.
Dying Molded Eggs
Some bento makers like to take these specially-shaped eggs a step further by dying them for added effect. One might dye a fish-shaped egg blue for example, or a star-shaped egg yellow.
To die your hard-boiled egg, place the finished, molded product in a bath of vegetable dye. Let the egg soak until it had reached your desired level of brightness.
Other Decorative Hard-Boiled Egg Options
If you want to have an adorable hard-boiled egg right now and can't wait to get your mold, there are some alternatives. You can, for example, die your hard-boiled egg while it is still in its shell. Whilst traveling in Germany, I was pleasantly surprised to find that hard-boiled eggs sold in grocery stores were dyed in such a manner. Though I did not have a chance to photograph them, I even saw a set of such eggs for sale that were dyed like soccer balls in honour of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. How cool is that?
Another less laborious option is to draw faces onto your eggs after you have dyed them. I do this with sharpies for bold lines. One can get quite creative with faces in hid respect.
You can also do some low-tech decorative things with normal, peeled hard-boiled eggs. One of my favourites involves slicing into the egg's centre in a zig-zag manner around its circumference. When the two halves are separated, one is presented with a beautiful beveled edge.
Isn't it amazing what you can do with eggs?
Other Japanese Food Shaping Phenomenons
As both lovers of food and all things kawaii (cute), the Japanese have not limited their shaping skills to eggs alone. Consider, for example, the special cucumber molds
one can purchase for the purpose of growing heart and star-shaped cucumbers, as well as square watermelons
that have recently popped up in specialty markets (amidst even stranger shapes
What can we expect from the future? Hopefully lots of adorably shaped foods! In the mean time, I hope you have lots of fun shaping hard-boiled eggs.