Eggs should be very fresh. The whites of fresh eggs are firmer, coating the yolk evenly, which results in
better shaped poached eggs with fewer loose strands. Use approximately 1 - 2 tablespoons vinegar for 1 litre of water.
Pour water into small saucepan, enough to
cover the bottom about 8 centimetres deep. (Then measure the water, so you will know how much vinegar to use.) Bring the water to
a rolling boil, pour in the vinegar and remove the pan from the stove. Turn off the heat.
Carefully break one egg into a small bowl or a cup, not breaking the yolk. Holding the cup close to the water's surface, rapidly but gently slide the egg in the water.
Immediately place the pan back on the still warm stove (the water must not boil, just barely simmer).
The egg white starts to coagulate and forms a pouch around the yolk. Let the egg cook for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how firm you want the yolk inside to be.
Remove the egg from the water with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel. Trim the egg into an oval shape if necessary, cutting off any rough edges with scissors. Bring the water to the boil again and repeat poaching with the remaining eggs.
Poached eggs may be served warm or cold. If served cold, place the poached eggs into a bowl of cold water. In addition to cooling the eggs, this also stops the cooking process and rinses off the excess taste of vinegar. Eggs can be stored in water for several hours or they can be drained and stored in refrigerator.
Poached eggs can be reheated before serving by placing them in hot, lightly salted water for about 30 seconds (use 1½ teaspoon of salt to 1 litre of water). Remove with a slotted spoon, drain and serve.
- A good tip from the celebrity chef Nigella Lawson (being remarkable in the sense that, unlike most tips, it really works) is to first drain the egg of its too watery portion of the egg white (which would spread and form loose strands during poaching instead of coating the yolk) and then coat the remaining white with some acidic substance to cause the egg white protein to coagulate on the surface, thus helping the egg better hold its shape during poaching.
This is how it's done:
1. Draining: Place a small, very fine-meshed sieve, like a tea strainer, over a small bowl or a cup. Using a fine sieve like a tea strainer prevents too much or even all of the egg white from draining off, as might happen if a regular sieve with looser mesh/larger holes would be used. Gently crack the egg into the sieve and let some watery white drip through into the bowl. The older the egg, the waterier its white will be and the more liquid will drain off, leaving very little to coat the yolk, even leaving it exposed. This is why it is better to use fresher eggs, whose white is firmer and thoroughly coating the yolk.
2. Coagulating: Squirt a little fresh or bottled lemon juice in a small bowl or cup, like a medium-sized espresso cup. Gently slide the drained egg from the sieve into the cup. Drizzle some more lemon juice (about a teaspoon) over the egg white to partially coagulate it, making its surface firmer.
3. Poaching: Slide the egg from the cup into poaching liquid and proceed as instructed in the recipe above.
- After adding the egg into the water, you can improve its shape by gathering the white around the yolk with a slotted or a wooden spoon.
This is especially handy if the eggs used are not very fresh.
- You can also place a soup ladle (or a small ramekin or some other heatproof container) into the water, then pour the egg inside the ladle to help to maintain an oval shape. (Note: the rim of the container should not rise above the water surface.)
- Older eggs can first be cooked in their shells for 8 - 10 seconds in gently simmering water before poaching to help to maintain an oval shape.
- To save time, you can poach 2 - 3 eggs at a time, depending on the size of the pan, as long as the water maintains a gentle simmer.
Recipe source: family recipe/traditional recipe.