Skills You Should Have: How To Poach an Egg


I’ve been trying to come up with a new segment for Braised Blue. Foods You Should Know is fun but really time consuming to research, drinks you should know seems to lead to me mixing cocktails at inappropriate times of the day and I am making a new years resolution to present my recipes in a much more impact-full visual way*. So when I have a chest cold and a lack of energy(such as today) I’ve decided to allow my pedantic nature to take over. Skills You Should Have is a way for me to give you a great reference tool on how to do simple but overlooked tasks in the kitchen.

Cooking eggs is a skill that people take for granted, because of it’s simplicity. I’ve echoed a sentiment in this blog about the intricacy of simplicity. A cooked egg is a very simple yet elegant thing. It’s also something that pretty much all people immediately know is messed up when they eat one you’ve made a mistake on. There is nowhere to hide when cooking an egg, it’s either done properly or it is not.

There are three components to an egg, the shell, the white and the yolk. When poaching you will only be working with two of these components(I don’t need to tell you which ones hopefully).**

Poaching is the technique of gently cooking something by immersing it in a heated liquid medium as to preserve a delicate texture or moisture. In this case that something is an egg and that medium is water with a little bit of rice wine vinegar.

What you will need:

Eggs (brought as closely to room temperature as possible)

Water (Enough to fill 3 or 4 inches of your cooking vessel.

Rice Wine Vinegar*** (A splash or two)

A pot or sauce pan (with a nice heavy bottom that will hold/control heat well.)

A slotted spoon

A bowl

A paper towel

A Timer(set to four minutes)

How to do it:

1. Crack your egg into a bowl. This allows you to pour the entire egg into the water in one shot. Cracking the egg right into your hot water is just tempting fate, why bother with fate when you can just pour the entire egg in quickly and easily?

2. In your pot, which is filled with water and vinegar, you bring the water just to the point of boiling. You can identify this by tiny bubbles forming on the surface of the bottom of the pot. You don’t want the water to boil, you don’t want the water to simmer you want it right at the edge.

3. When your cooking liquid is ready give it  a good stir, in one direction, making a whirl pool effect. This will allow help the egg to congeal all together as it cooks.

4. Pour the egg from the bowl right into the vortex of the whirl pool you just created. You want to pour the egg right at the surface of the water, quickly but also gently. This will again keep that egg together, it’s rarely going to be perfect where every ribbon of egg congeals together but these little tricks can help you get close to that.


5. As soon as the egg is in the water, start your timer and turn the heat down slightly just incase the water decides to start simmering. In four minutes you will see the egg cook, the ribbons of egg begin to really start consolidating. At four minutes with your slotted spoon remove the egg from the water and let it drain on a paper towel.****


6. I like to serve the egg on toast with salt, and pepper, when you break into the yolk you want to see the yellow liquid to slowly cascade out but not just run everywhere. There should be some yolk that holds onto the white while the middle yolk slowly runs.(See photo)


*This may mean fewer recipes but much more food porn.

**Editor’s note, we are not “slow poaching” today, we are doing a normal poaching method. I will however do my best to remember to do an article on slow poaching an egg. Because it’s super delicious and the science of the technique is really awesome.

*** Vinegar will induce a chemical reaction in the egg white which will cause it to congeal much quicker than the hot water on its own, otherwise you will have ribbons of egg white floating in your water and good luck capturing them. Also I like using rice wine vinegar because it has a lighter flavour and a little bit a of sweet nose which is more pleasant. I can always pick out a poached egg that has been done in just plain white vinegar by it’s aroma and for me it’s not the most appetizing thing.

****At this point the egg is done and can be left for a little while if you are say making these eggs for a few people or you want to have two of them at the same time. All you have to do is carefully drop them back into the hot water for 30 seconds to bring them back up to heat and serve them when you are ready.