My appreciation for a well-poached egg came later in life when I discovered it was time to cut back on the calorie-packed fried eggs that had coddled me through my youth. I now love them, opting for them over fried eggs most of the time.
What I love so much about them is their texture. Properly poached, the white is cooked but remains very tender and subtle, far from the rubbery texture that can accompany a fried egg. And poached to medium, the yolk is consistently runny, golden and unctuous.
Poached eggs get a bad rap for being hard to make – but I honestly don’t think they are. And aside from boiling water, they take only a few minutes.
Just follow these four step-by-step instructions to achieve poached perfection:
1. Add enough water to a small saucepan to reach 2 inches depth and measure how much water this is. Bring water to a boil.
2. Reduce heat until water just stops simmering and is steaming hot. Hold heat there. Add add 1 tsp vinegar for every 2 cups of water. (Vinegar helps coagulate the egg white so you lose less of it when it’s initially added to the water. This ratio is also little enough that you won’t taste it and it won’t harden the egg white.)
3. Use a spoon to create a whirlpool in the pot of water. This will keep the egg in the centre and keep the white from splaying off. Crack and egg into a ladle, and gently ladle the egg into the centre of the spinning water. Some of the egg will spin off, this is normal.
4. Allow to cook untouched. If you are looking for a slightly undercooked white with a very runny centre (soft-poached) cook for 3 minutes. For a fully cooked but tender white with a runny yolk (medium-poached) cook for 4 minutes. For a firm white and semi-firm yolk (hard-poached) cook for 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove from water. Rest spoon over a bowl to let all the water run off.
Originally published February 26th, 2015.
Want a live demonstration? Watch our how-to video on poaching eggs: