There are many ways to poach an egg. Some are more reliable than others.
If you’re like me, then you’ve experienced the miserable “egg soup" scenario. This is where your poached egg more closely resembles wispy threads floating in water than a delicate, coddled globe with a molten centre. But don’t despair. There are ways to avoid this unfortunate situation.
One of the constants in successful poaching is the quality and freshness of the egg. However, finding really fresh eggs on grocery shelves can be a challenge.
First, check the use-by date. Sounds simple but it can often be overlooked when you’re faced with a wall of eggs. There can be up to two weeks' difference in use-by dates between eggs sitting side-by-side on your supermarket shelf.
Secondly, look at the eggs. Choose eggs with a chalky surface over those with a smooth one – this is a sure sign of fresh eggs.
Once you have your fresh eggs, you need to know the best method for poaching them... Read on...
Happy New Year!
How to poach an egg
Poaching eggs can be hit or miss so don't expect to get it on your first go. Have a few spare eggs handy just in case and remember that you need:
- fresh eggs at room temperature
- a little vinegar in the saucepan to help the egg set
- Good luck!
Step 1: Have your fresh eggs at room temperature. If they've been in the fridge you need to "condition" them. This means putting them in a bowl of hot water (not boiling) for 5 minutes to warm them up.
Next, fill a saucepan with with water (about 8cm high) and bring it to the boil. Add about 1 teaspoon of white vinegar.
Step 2: Once the water has reached a rolling boil, turn it right down to low so there are barely perceptible bubbles bubbling to the surface. Take a spoon and stir the water in a circle to form a whirlpool. Have an egg ready next to you.
Step 3: Gently crack the eggshell and open the egg into the middle of the whirlpool.
Step 4: The whirlpool vortex will spin the egg into a delicate coddled shape. The addition of the egg will bring the water temperature down so you have to turn the heat up very slightly but not so the water bubbles. Poach the egg for 2-3 minutes.
Step 5: Use a slotted spoon to transfer the egg to a bowl of cool water while you cook the other eggs (if you are cooking more than one).
Step 6: Hold the submerged egg in one hand, keeping it in the cool water and then use your fingers or a pair of scissors to gently pull or cut off any straggly bits of egg white (pictured above, top right).
Just before serving you can dunk the poached eggs back into the saucepan of hot water to heat them up and then drain them on a kitchen paper towel.
Serve the poached egg on a slice of buttered toast with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.