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.
Tips for poaching
- 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.
- Heat water to just under simmering.
- With a pushpin, carefully pierce one end of the egg.
- 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".
- 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.