( water in which you've just boiled your ramen noodles. :P)

A while back, a friend suggested I post about poaching eggs. Given that poached egg with ramen is my go-to homecooked fast food meal, it makes perfect sense that I would.

While poaching eggs is really not that difficult a thing to do, I can see why the process is a challenging one for those who don't do it often. There are lots of dicey and iffy moments during that 3 or 4 minutes (depending on the size) during which the egg is reaching the right poachedness that make you think it's not going to make it. So you mess with it a little too much, lose even more of the white than you would normally lose, perhaps jiggle it before it's sufficiently set and pop the yolk, and when you do that, just forget it all and eat a bag of chips or something because who wants a well done poached egg???

This poached egg is not well done. :)

This reminds me of a conversation I had with the Boy yesterday about how sometimes, good cooking is as much about knowing when to be still as active. Poaching an egg requires:

- faith,
- patience,
- willingness to sacrifice, and
- restraint.

Faith as the whites are flailing in slow motion that they will come together at some point; patience to wait until they do just that; willingness to sacrifice the inevitable loss of white (and it looks like a lot, but it's not that much, really); and the restraint required first not to boil the water too, too hot, and second not to touch the egg until it's good and ready.

How To Poach An Egg

A pot with a thicker ply of insulation on the bottom is best for poaching eggs as thin bottomed pots put the eggs in closer contact with too much direct heat, resulting in the egg sticking to the bottom and being much more likely to break when you try to remove it. However, a thin bottomed non-stick pot can mitigate some of the stickage if that's what you've got on hand.

Sorry the water isn't clear in these pics. I poached the eggs for ramen after boiling my ramen noodles in the water first. This, by the way, is my most common use for poached eggs.

Some people recommend using vinegar or some other acid to help the protein seize/solidify faster. I tried it once and didn't care for the very subtle, more rubbery difference in the texture of the egg whites.

1) Fill your pot with about 4 inches of water and bring up to a gently rolling boil over slightly higher than medium heat. The gently rolling part is important because if it's so hot that it's spit/splatter or even rolling boiling, the initial disturbance to the egg hinders proper poaching.

2) Crack the eggshell, and holding it as close to the water as you can without hurting yourself, gently open the shell and release the egg into the water. If you don't have asbestos hands like me and are generally very sensitive to heat, you can crack the egg into a bowl and then gently pour the egg into the water from a safer distance for your hands.

Those pesky flailing whites that make you mistakenly
think your poached eggs are going to hell...

3) Don't touch it. At least not for a good two minutes depending on the size of the egg. The ones pictured here were jumbos straight out of the fridge and they took about 4 minutes total cooking time. During this cooktime, some of the white will separate from the rest of the egg. This is to be expected.

4) After 2 or 3 minutes (again depending on the size and temperature of the egg), when it appears at first glance that all of the white has turned opaque, take a spoon or spatula and stir very gently in a clockwise circular motion along the outer edges of the pot, using the actual pot as a guide for your spoon or spatula, and being careful not to disturb the egg(s).

If the egg is done, it will usually separate from the bottom of the pot by itself, and when you lift it out of the water, you will see that while all the white is opaque and cooked through, the yolk is still runny and jiggly underneath.

Sometimes, the egg gets stuck to the bottom of the pot. In which case, you take a spatula and swiftly scrape it off the bottom of the pan using one quick motion, holding the scraping edge of the spatula down along the bottom surface. This makes sure you get as much of the egg as possible while not disturbing the yolk, which should be closer to the top than the bottom.

If you wanna get all chi-chi-foo-foo about it, you can trim the thinner outer edges of the white, but I leave them on because I figures that's just more food for me. :)




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