Who doesn’t love poached eggs? Imagine that rich, golden, runny yolk oozing out onto a buttery piece of toast. A perfectly packaged portion of pure decadence!
There is a reason why many go out for brunch and pay for something as simple as eggs on toast. But who says you have to go to a fancy restaurant to enjoy them? Why not make them yourself? Yes, the humble poached egg is as intimidating as it is impressive – but here’s a handy guide to help. Read on to learn how to cook poached eggs perfectly at home.
Top Tips for Making Poached Eggs
Before going into the various ways of making perfect poached eggs, take note of these practical tips first. This way, you know your attempts will be better than last time.
Use the freshest eggs
The simplest yet most important tip is to use fresh eggs – they will work much better. Fresher eggs mean their proteins are more intact, making for a more compact (or less feathery) and visually appealing poached egg. You can either check that your eggs are far from their best-before date or test them for freshness with a DIY trick. Do this by submerging them in water; if they sink and lay flat on their sides, they are fresh.
Strain watery whites
If you don’t have super fresh eggs, don’t worry; you can still make poached eggs! As an egg gets older, its proteins in the white start to separate, making it more watery. This causes the wispy, thin strands you sometimes get while poaching. To avoid this, crack your egg into a fine mesh sieve. This will separate the runny whites, leaving you with only the parts you should be using. But if all the egg whites seep through the sieve, choose another egg.
Add some vinegar
Another way to help older eggs poach better is to use some vinegar. Add a splash of white vinegar per pot of water. The acidity helps coagulate the egg whites, which means they will hold their shape better. This not only makes it easier to get a good-looking egg but also makes it easier to handle after cooking.
Get ready to poach
Set yourself up for success by preparing all components before getting started. Poaching an egg takes a few short minutes, which can swiftly pass if you’re still scrambling to find your slotted spoon.
Start by selecting your eggs and cracking each one into a small bowl or teacup. This makes it easier to slide your egg into the water. Grab your slotted spoon and line a plate with a paper towel for draining your eggs after cooking. Fill your pan with about three inches of water and heat to a very gentle simmer. The water’s temperature is crucial. Boiling water will cook your eggs too much, while warm water will do nothing. Now, you are ready to poach!
How to Make Poached Eggs
There are several ways to poach an egg, each with pros and cons. Learn some of them below and find your most preferred method.
1. The whirlpool
Here is the most straightforward method that doesn't require fancy equipment. Once your water is ready, use a spoon to slowly swirl the water in one direction, creating a gentle whirlpool (not a tornado). Bring your prepared cup close to the water and slowly slide the egg into the center of the swirl. The motion will help wrap the whites around the yolk, keeping the egg together as it cooks. Leave it for about 3 minutes, and then use a slotted spoon to scoop it out and onto a paper towel to drain.
2. Silicone molds
Poaching eggs in silicone cups is simple and guarantees a perfectly round result every time. Look for these cups in various shapes and colors from your home or online store.
To begin, grease your molds with a thin layer of cooking oil, then crack your egg inside. Fill your pan with a few inches of water and bring it to a boil. Once the water is boiling, turn the water down to a simmer. Place the cup into the water and cover the pot with a lid. Leave for about 7-10 minutes, depending on how firm you want your egg. Cooking it in silicone means a slightly longer cooking time than usual.
Once ready, use a slotted spoon or a sieve to lift the cups. Your perfect poached eggs should now easily slide out of the mold. Otherwise, run a butter knife along the edge of the cooked egg to release and enjoy.
3. Poaching pouches
If you aren’t in the market for buying new kitchen equipment, this might be the hack for you. It works the same way as silicone molds but uses cling film. This method also makes it easy to cook multiple eggs at a time.
To start, line a small bowl with cling film, leaving enough overhang to tie ends together. Coat the cling film lightly with some oil and crack your egg in. Gather the sides and twist and tie them into a pouch. Drop it directly into simmering water and cook to your desired doneness. When ready, lift the pouched eggs using a spoon or sieve onto a plate, snip open, and serve.
Once you’ve mastered the cooking, you can start experimenting with new ways of serving poached eggs. Try them on rice with a few splashes of Knorr Liquid Seasoning. You can also add chopped herbs or ham to your pouches before cooking. Whichever method you choose, don’t forget that a perfect poached egg takes patience and practice. Cherish the process and enjoy your finished products!