Poaching is a cooking method wherein foods such as eggs, fish and fruit are simmered in liquid until cooked. This method allows the protein in the food to cook whilst retaining the moisture. You need not be a Master Chef to make the perfectly poached eggs. Anybody and everybody can master this method. Chef Kunal Kapur says, “What you should be aiming for is a smooth, not rubbery, ball of tender egg white enveloping a soft runny yolk that spills out when broken into.”
Before you begin
Make sure you use a fresh egg. Avoid using eggs that have been kept in the refrigerator. “The egg needs to coagulate and come together at once so that it becomes whole. If an egg is not fresh, it won’t poach well enough and the egg white might even float everywhere,” explains Kapur.
To judge an egg's freshness, slowly drop it into a glass of water. If it sinks to the bottom, it is fresh. If it floats, it isn't as fresh. The white of fresh eggs is always thicker. If your egg isn’t so fresh, you could use it by draining off the runnier white.
If not this method, Kapur says, “It is advisable to crack open an egg into a separate bowl before transferring it. This allows you to check for egg shells, its freshness and if there are any red spots.” If you do find eggshells, you could use the larger piece of the shell to take it out of the bowl, he suggests.
Also read: 5 easy ways to make eggs at home
Here are some hacks to help you master the art of poaching eggs.
A Step Up
Crack the egg into a bowl or saucer and set it aside. Bring a pan of water to a gentle simmer. Don't add salt to the egg as this may break up the egg white. “Never season the water. Instead, season the egg after you have removed it from the water,” suggests Kapur.
Next, stir the water to create a gentle whirlpool so that when you drop the egg into it, the movement or shift of water allows the poached egg to come together beautifully, he says. If you don’t, the egg will go flat and float everywhere. If needed, you could add half a tablespoon of vinegar into the pan. Kapur says, “Vinegar's acidic nature helps in coagulation of the protein and adds a bit of flavour.”
Slowly drop the egg into the centre. While at it, make sure the heat isn’t too high as you don’t want your egg to be thrown all around. Cook for the next 3 to 4 minutes or until the white is set. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the egg onto a kitchen paper to drain the excess water.
Still got a few doubts about poaching an egg? Scroll up to watch chef Mehrishi do it.
Just ‘Cling’ It
The easiest and best way to cook poached eggs is by keeping their shape intact! A cling wrap and mug are all you need to get started. Cut some cling wrap, place it over a mug and push slightly allowing it to take the shape of the mug. A mug with a deep mouth works best. Next, apply some cooking spray or butter over the cling wrap before cracking an egg into it. Make sure you seal the cling wrap by twisting it well. In a pan of boiling water, place the egg and cook on medium heat for five minutes. When done, let the egg cool before unwrapping the cling wrap and serve hot.
Also read: Egg recipes from the Parsi kitchen
Microwave to the Rescue
With this method, all you need is 30 seconds for the perfectly poached egg. All you have to do is break open an egg into a small glass bowl and then allow the microwave to work its magic for the next 30 seconds. If the egg is still runny, cook for another 10 to 15 seconds, depending on the required consistency. Another way is to pour a small amount of water into a dish, carefully break an egg into the water and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Kapur says, “With this method, one can come close to making a poached egg but it won’t be that great.”
Cheat your way by purchasing easily available poach pods. Simply break an egg and carefully transfer it into the pod. Boil for five minutes or more depending on how you like your egg.
Checklist: A good quality poached egg is one which has a runny yolk in the center. The egg white should not be overcooked as it will turn rubbery. You can always use a sieve to remove excess whites.
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