Poached eggs are my favorite over any other style of eggs (and the be honest, I just don’t get scrambled eggs at all!). I don’t know when or why I fell in love with poached eggs, but it is the method I choose to cook and request if I am ever asked when eating out.
Poached Eggs – some tips!
What is poaching?
Poaching is the cooking of any food in a liquid – for eggs that normally means water, although I have also seen and eaten (thanks to my Mum) poached eggs cooked in a tomato-based gravy. Other foods, such as fish, are often poached in wine. I have not tried eggs poached in wine, but I am still young!
The BIG secret to poaching eggs!
The real secret of cooking a great poached egg is vinegar! Adding vinegar to the water makes the egg’s proteins stick together (coagulate) rather than disperse into the cooking water. The more vinegar you add, the greater the effect. However the balance is to add just enough to cause the egg to stay as one piece (and not a watery clump of filaments) and not to taste too much like the vinegar. I will suggest how much in my methods below.
I have heard people say ‘use apple cider vinegar’ or ‘rice wine vinegar’ etc….but any works!
Poached eggs can be made with any eggs. However the fresher the egg the better the results. Save your older eggs for hard boiling or adding to cakes….keep the fresh one for poaching! Some people like to crack the egg into a cup first…but I am happy that my chicken’s eggs are good, so I happily crack them straight into the water. The trick is not to do this from a great height, but try and ease the eggs into the water almost at water level. I call it “sliding the eggs in”…
Deepwater versus Shallow water
There are basically two ways to cook a great poached egg. And here I am ignoring the single-purpose egg poaching devices and special containers for poaching eggs in the microwave. Both of these I have found to provide pretty poor results. For me….use water and a pan!
Deepwater poached eggs are done in a saucepan. The water needs to be deep – around 3 inches. Bring the water to boil and add three tablespoons of vinegar. Stir the water so it is moving in a circular motion then slide the eggs in. Turn the water down so it’s on the lowest heat and then let the eggs ‘stand’ in the poaching water for around 2-4 minutes. Two minutes and they are soft. Four minutes and they are firm. Don’t be tempted to stir the water again….let it sit till the eggs are done. Don’t let the water boil like crazy…you will end up with egg froth and not much else.
Deepwater poaching gives you a round ball-like result.
Shallow water poached eggs are done in a frypan. The water can be shallow, around an inch works well. Bring the water to the boil and add two tablespoons of vinegar. Slide the egg into the water. Because the water is shallow the egg spreads out a little like frying. Leave the egg for 2-4 minutes. You may have to splash water over the top of the egg to cook the top (depending on the depth of water).
And of course…..Poached Eggs Benedict!
Eggs Benedict has to be my favourite way of eating poached eggs. I replace the bacon with smoked salmon and add avocado. Yum!