We all love them. Its probably the classic way to eat an egg. Whether soft in the middle, and covered in hollandaise sauce, as in a classic eggs Benedict, or poached and refreshed in cold water and served as an ingredients in a Caesar salad, or just done, served on buttered grain toast.. Yum!
The perfect poached egg can be a challenge, but with a small amount of science, and some understanding of the ingredients it can be made easy.
Fresh eggs are key. When an egg is fresh, the white, is thick, with little air in it, and very tight around the yolk. A stale egg has a very runny thin white.
Salted, vinegared water is the next key.
Salt does two things. It raises the density of the water, promoting the egg, especially the white, to want to float when cooked. Secondly the salt seasons, and enhances the flavour of the egg.
Vinegar does two things as well. It creates acidic water, which helps promote coagulation of the egg white. Secondly it lowers the temperature which the egg white (protein) sets at. From approx 65 to 63 degrees.
The other small bit of science is understanding what is happening in a sauce pan full of boiling water. Rapid activity at the bottom of a boiling sauce pan pushes anything that is light enough off the bottom. In the case of an egg, it pushes the white up off the bottom so that the two sides ot the white join and wrap around the yolk.
Deepish pot of boiling water
Good splash white vinegar
Season water with salt
Make sure the water is on a rolling boil. Gently crack egg into the water. Bring back to the boil and boil until white lifts off the bottom and closes around the egg. Turn right down and poach till desired degree of doneness is achieved.
Pefect poached egg result will be a round in shape, with the firm white completely wrapped around the yolk!