Poaching – An Explanation

The poached egg trend has most certainly taken over, but few know exactly what it entails. It involves cracking an egg into hot, but not boiling, water where it eventually hardens and cooks. The term “poaching” comes from the French word for pocket: “poche”. This may be due to the fact that the egg white appears to pocket the egg yolk during the process.

A poached egg on a slice of bread, or with a side of rice or vegetables, makes for a healthy snack or meal packed full of protein. The perfect poached egg is usually with a runny yolk inside, but this of course depends on your preference and how you like your eggs cooked.

FOOBY Tip FOOBY Tip

The key to a well poached egg is to only use fresh eggs – this means the egg white is still quite viscous and will coagulate perfectly around the egg yolk. Older eggs tend to have a thinner egg white and will therefore disperse and become quite straggly. In case you have not got fresh eggs at home, continue with the step-by-step guide below for a well-formed poached egg. 

Poaching – Step-by-Step

When poaching, make sure your cooking water is warm but not boiling – the temperature should be somewhere between 65 to 80°C. Follow the guide below for a successful poached egg:

·         Heat up the water with a dash of white wine vinegar – do not boil

·         Crack the egg and carefully slide it into the water

·         Cook the egg for 2-4 minutes

·         Remove it from the water with a slotted spoon and gently check for the desired consistency with your finger

·         When cooked to your liking, remove the egg, let it drain on a piece of kitchen towel, season and serve

Poaching – Varieties

There are a number of varieties to this method. Some like to create a gentle whirlpool in the water with a spoon before inserting the egg. This may help the egg white to wrap around the egg yolk, resulting in a more compact form. Using a dash of vinegar in the water is quite controversial. It is known to help the egg coagulate faster, but if the egg is really fresh, there should be no need for vinegar. 

Poaching – Tips and Tricks

In case your poached egg is not coming out as desired, here are a few Fooby tips as well as a fail-safe, emergency solution:

·         Tip 1: Crack the egg into a small bowl and let it slowly slide into the water.

·         Tip 2: Insert the egg with the shell into boiling water for ten seconds, take it out, and then poach as normal – careful, it’s hot!

·         Tip 3: If there are some stringy bits of egg white, simply cut them off once the egg has been removed from the water.

Emergency Solution

In case your eggs are no longer 100% fresh but are still edible, or if you are poaching a number of eggs at the same time, or simply just to be on the safe side, try this solution:

·         Lay some cling film into a small bowl, put a drop of oil in there and then crack the egg in.

·         Seal the top of the cling film by twisting it together and continue to poach as usual.

·         Let the egg cook as usual in the simmering water.

Poaching – Fish, Meat and Vegetables

Although we are most familiar with poached eggs, fish, meat and vegetables also poach excellently, as well as more local specialties like potato dumplings or sausages. This cooking method is very gentle and offers several advantages: no fat is required for this style of cooking, and it retains vitamins and nutrients. With poultry or pork, it is important to make sure that the meat is cooked fully.

Instead of poaching in water, you can also poach food in broth, meat stock or wine. Adding herbs such as bay leaves and juniper berry, as well as onions and garlic, lends the broth or stock more flavour. 

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