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Key issues in poaching eggs:
- Proper cooking
- A fundamental issue is how long eggs are cooked and at what temperature. These considerations are similar to boiling or coddling eggs, but because the egg is more spread out, one can cook more briefly.
- Poach eggs are ideally compact, rather than spread out or “billowed”, as these latter are delicate and messy. Gently adding the eggs to the water and using vinegar helps reduce billowing.
- As with frying, one wishes an intact yolk, and thus should take care in cracking the egg to avoid piercing the yolk.
Tips for making poached eggs:
- Use a heavy based saucepan, since the heat distribution on its bottom is more even.
- About 1 cm depth of water is adequate for poaching chickens' eggs.
- Bring the water to a boil.
- The heat should be reduced beneath the pan, until only very small bubbles are beginning to form on the base of the pan (shrimp eyes).
- A tablespoon of vinegar can be added to the water, since this helps the eggs to set rapidly and prevents the egg white from billowing, but this is strictly optional and may impact the taste.
- The contents of each egg should first be cracked into a shallow cup or ladle, individually.
- Each egg should then be very gently added to the water; make sure not to add the eggs from a great height, as this will cause them to lose their shape and for the whites to billow.
- Leaving 10–15 seconds between adding eggs helps prevent them from sticking, particularly in small pans, as the earlier egg will have lightly set on the outside.
- Agitating the water slightly by stirring in a circle to create a gentle 'whirlpool' effect may also help to prevent billowing as well as sticking
- Two to three minutes should be adequate for the yolks to start to set.