How to… poach an egg

I don’t want to show off but I can poach eggs.


Ok well not perfect food magazine styled eggs but I can pull off a pretty decent home cook version. I never realised poaching eggs was such a big deal, apparently even some professional chefs struggle with them and quite frankly I think you’re all being a bit too fussy. Why do eggs have to come out perfectly round in a beautiful tight oval ball? Why can’t they be odd shapes and have a few stands of weird white in it, its almost impossible not to have a small amount of strandage, unless your eggs have literally just come out of the chicken (and if they have, call me and I’ll come and cook it for you, payment is one egg!). It still tastes delicious and I’ve never had any complaints from anyone I’ve ever poached for. When I had a look on Pinterest for poaching egg guidelines, I found millions (exaggeration) of different ways to poach an egg ‘perfectly’. It clearly is a source of great (another exaggeration) anxiety and as I’m pretty sure poaching is as much down to confidence as it is to technique, I’m telling you to lower your visual expectations, man up and get poaching. If you’re a Cook Club subscriber, its definitely a skill you’ll want to learn!

In an experiment to see if my poaching skills were down to more luck/confidence than judgement I tested out 3 different ways to poach an egg. I kept them all stove top because quite frankly the appeal of a poached egg to me is that its fast, I am not turning on the oven and baking them in trays (I reserve the right to change my mind at any point). I poached 3 eggs in plain water, (personally I’m not wasting precious apple cider vinegar on an egg just for me although it does help with some strandage, *see bottom of post) and the results are below:

Hot still water: I brought the water up to a simmer then turned the heat down until the water was no longer moving. I swirled the water with my spoon and cracked the egg in, timed 3 minutes and this is the result:

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Simmering water (my usual method): I brought the water to a brisk and steady simmer then swirled the water with my spoon and cracked the egg in. Timed 3 minutes and this is the result:

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Boiling water: I brought the water to a brisk boil and swirled the water with my spoon, cracked the egg in and timed 3 minutes. This is the result (not good):

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The verdict

I was surprised that the still hot water worked so well, it seemed to cut down on the stringiness of the egg yet still gave me a reasonable shape and cut nicely. To be honest I’ll probably stick to my usual maverick egg poaching style of chucking it into simmering water but if you have always struggled or never tried I would definitely recommend the still water technique as its the most stress free, it really is about being confident that the water will do its job – do make sure you use the freshest, best eggs you can afford as it does make a difference to your end result. I’ve done a really quick simple video here called (unsurprisingly) Poaching an Egg to show you the method along with the instructions below, good luck!

Easy Poached Eggs

The winner

(Make sure you use fresh eggs as this will cut down on your white strands and have a large slotted spoon handy for easy lifting out of the water.)

1. Fill a medium saucepan to half way and bring the water to a brisk simmer before turning the heat down until the water is no longer moving but still hot.

2. Using a long handled slotted spoon, swirl the water around until you have yourself a mini whirlpool (see video for technique)

3. Crack your egg into the whirlpool (or you can pre-crack your egg into a cup and gently pour in this alleviates any pre-poaching nerves!) and set your timer for 3 minutes (maybe 30 seconds to 1 minute longer if you prefer a harder yolk). Just watch and don’t panic, the egg will wrap around itself, you just have to make sure the water doesn’t start to simmer and don’t interfere with the egg.

4. After 3 minutes, remove egg with large slotted spoon and serve. Just be confident, you can do it!

Helen x

Don’t forget to subscribe to Cook Club and show us your poached eggs, you might have noticed I’m a bit obsessed with them!

*Poaching an egg with a splash of vinegar in the water does help pull the stands into the egg (see below pic), the only reason I don’t do it regularly is I don’t want to waste precious vinegar on an egg that I’m going to eat either way. I will use vinegar if I’m poaching for guests though!


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