Cookbook | Ingredients | Cooking techniques

Poaching is a method of cooking that employs a liquid, usually a small amount, that is hot but not actually bubbling. The French term is frisonne – shivering. The ideal temperature is between 160F and 180F (75-80C). The cooking liquid is often water, but broth, stock, milk or juice can also be used.

Delicate foods such as fish, eggs out of the shell, or fruits are commonly cooked by poaching. The cooking method is also used to partially cook certain foods such as sweetbread in order to eliminate undesirable flavors and to firm the product before final cooking.

It should be noted that the term is occasionally used to describe foods that have been boiled or simmered.

Tips for poaching edit

  • Use a thermometer to gauge the temperature of the cooking liquid or watch for bubbling and adjust the heat as necessary.
  • Do not allow the food being cooked to touch the bottom of the pan or it may cook too rapidly or burn.
  • When poaching eggs, add a splash of vinegar to the water. This will help quickly firm the egg white so multiple eggs can be cooked at once without all sticking together.

Egg poaching edit

Whirlpool method edit

  1. Choose fresh eggs: Fresh eggs have a tighter egg white, making them easier to poach. Avoid using older eggs as they tend to spread out more in the water.
  2. Bring water to a simmer: Fill a large saucepan with water, about 2-3 inches deep. Heat the water over medium-low heat until it reaches a gentle simmer. Avoid boiling the water, as it can be too aggressive for poaching.
  3. Add vinegar and salt (optional): Adding a splash of white vinegar (about one tablespoon per liter/quart of water) can help coagulate the egg white, resulting in a neater poached egg. You can also add a pinch of salt for seasoning at this stage.
  4. Create a gentle whirlpool: Using a spoon or whisk, create a gentle whirlpool in the simmering water. This motion will help the egg form a neater shape as it cooks.
  5. Crack the egg: Carefully crack an egg into a small bowl or cup. This will make it easier to slide the egg into the water without breaking the yolk.
  6. Slide the egg into the whirlpool: Gently and slowly slide the cracked egg into the center of the whirlpool. The swirling water will help wrap the egg white around the yolk.
  7. Set a timer: Depending on your preference, poach the egg for about 3-4 minutes for a soft, runny yolk or 5-6 minutes for a firmer yolk. The timing may vary slightly based on the size of the egg and the temperature of the water.
  8. Check for doneness: Using a slotted spoon, carefully lift the poached egg out of the water and inspect it for the desired level of doneness. The egg white should be fully set, and the yolk should have the desired consistency.
  9. Drain and serve: If the egg is done to your liking, remove it from the water with the slotted spoon and let it drain briefly on a paper towel or kitchen towel. This will remove any excess water. Serve the poached egg immediately while it's still warm.

Hole technique edit

  1. Heat water to just under simmering.
  2. With a pushpin, carefully pierce one end of the egg.
  3. Place egg on a large spoon, and lower it gently into the water. Keep submerged for 20-30 seconds. Some egg protein may start to come out of the hole in "streamers".
  4. Raise spoon, gently crack egg, and drop into water.

Pre-cooking the egg by letting some hot water inside the shell will result in a firmer egg once opened, and it will be less likely to come apart in the water while cooking.