How to poach an egg

Learning how to poach an egg is a rite of passage for every aspiring chef. It takes time, practice and plenty of eggs but once you’ve mastered it, you’ll be able to whip up eggs benedict whenever you wish. Here’s how it’s done.
 1. First of all, prepare the rest of your meal before you start poaching your eggs. Timing is everything. You will be amazed at how quickly three minutes goes by so get everything done and kept warm in the oven and save the eggs for last.

2. Select a suitable pan for poaching. The pan should be shallow and wide. Fill the pan to approximately two-thirds and bring to a gentle boil.

3. To help the eggs set, add white vinegar to the water. It’s not essential but it improves the egg’s appearance because the vinegar coagulates the egg white. About 1 tablespoon of white vinegar per litre of water. You can also use lemon juice but its flavour will come through.
4. Now for the eggs. Use eggs that are as fresh as possible; a freshly-laid egg will poach without any need for vinegar, as it will coagulate immediately. The fresher the egg, the better it will poach because its white is thicker. For the best results, only poach one egg at a time. More than one egg risks colliding and merging with other eggs when cooking.

5. Crack the eggs into separate ramekins, small bowls or a soup ladle. Do this gently so you don’t break the yolk. Turn down the boiling water to a simmer. Spin the simmering water before you drop in the egg. Carefully lower or drop the egg into the centre of the simmering whirlpool. The trick to poaching well without an egg poacher is to gently slip the egg directly into the simmering whirlpool as quickly as possible.

6. To help maintain the shape of the egg, swirl around the egg in a circular motion. Wait 3-4 minutes until cooked. You will know that the egg is cooked when the white has set and the yolk begins to thicken.
If poaching multiple eggs at once, do not spin the simmering water. Place the first bowl with its side just breaking the surface of the water and with a gentle quick motion, place the egg into the water. Quickly repeat this step with the other eggs, adding them at 10-15 second intervals. Depending on the size of the pan, two or three eggs at a time is about right as you need plenty of space.

7. Remove each egg with a slotted spoon. Let any excess water drip back into the pan and dry on a tea towel quickly before transferring to the plate. If the egg isn’t neat enough, trim with kitchen scissors and serve immediately.

If you’re still not a fan of traditional poaching, there is an easy answer in the form of egg poachers.

Fusionbrands poach pods
Serve your perfectly-poached eggs with hollandaise sauce, asparagus or just on toast. Sound good?

Written by Lisa Grey

Lisa is the commissioning editor of Spatula. When out of the Yuppiechef Test Kitchen, she spends her days with her toes in the Noordhoek sand, chasing her baby daughter, Bella, around the house. View more articles by .

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2 Comments

  1. Konrad says:

    You’ll get a much better result from the Kitchen Craft Clearview Stainless Steel 4 Hole Egg Poacher available on this site.

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