Not many people can say that there is one thing that they are blindingly brilliant at, but honestly, I really am the princess of egg-poaching. I can only credit this to the many gruelling hours I spent on the breakfast shift of a 120-seater restaurant. When you have one hand babying 30 poached eggs in 6 separate saucepans of simmering water and the other furiously whisking a 12 egg hollandaise you learn pretty quickly how to master the art without landing up with … um egg on your face!
So here it is, step-by-step: my secret to perfect poached eggs.
Step 1: Bring a saucepan of water to a gentle simmer and add about one tablespoon white vinegar.
Crack a fresh, room temperature egg into a small bowl or ramekin.
Step 2: Swirl the water with a spoon to create a whirlpool and slowly drop the egg into the centre of the whirlpool. Leave the bowl touching the surface of the water for a few seconds before pulling away (this ensures that the egg has a beautiful shape). Gently lift the egg to make sure it isn’t stuck on the bottom of the saucepan. Allow the egg to poach, making sure the water doesn’t boil, to the desired stage.
Step 3: Remove the egg with a slotted spoon and place briefly on a clean tea towel. The egg is now ready to be served.
Soft yolk 2-3 minutes
Firm-set yolk 3-4 minutes
A FEW TIPS
- Don’t allow the water to boil as this might cause the delicate egg to break
- The vinegar helps the eggs to coagulate quickly in the water and stops them falling apart
- If you are poaching more than one egg, it is a good idea to have two saucepans of water on the stove: use the above method to poach the egg until soft yolk stage then gently transfer it into the other saucepan for the remaining cooking time whilst you poach another egg in the first. In professional kitchens, the eggs are poached to soft-yolk stage beforehand then plunged into ice water and stored. To serve they are simply dropped into hot, salted water to heat