Lately, I’ve been trying to perfect my egg poaching technique–not because I don’t have anything better to do, but because it’s such a lovely way to top a simple meal of rice or noodles or grains. Seems fancy, but really isn’t. Over the years, I’ve picked up a few poaching tips, gathering them like a lint brush over the many recipes and books and poaching experts I’ve met. The ones that have stuck and always seem to work are:
1. Do NOT crack the egg directly into the pan of gently boiling water (I usually use a small to medium-sized skillet and fill it about 2 inches high with water), but crack it first into a tea cup or custard cup. Use the cup to gently slide the egg in to the water. This prevents the egg from going rogue and spreading out all over the pan, or having to fish out broken bits of shell and potentially mussing with your perfect egg orb.
2. Add a splash of vinegar (I use plain white vinegar) to the simmering water before adding the egg. I don’t know why this works but I always do it.
3. Swirl the boiling water in the pan with a whisk to create a tidal pool type situation and then add the egg to the still moving water. I don’t know why this works, but it does.
4. Once the egg is safely simmering in the water, place a lid on the pan and remove from it the heat. I let it sit covered for about 7 minutes because I like my egg to be runny, which is kind of the point of a poached egg, right?
5. Remove the egg gently with a large slotted spoon and place it on your dish or in a bowl of cold water if you want to refrigerate it and use later. I prefer to just eat mine right away.
My favorite thing to place a poached egg upon is simple pasta, like the buckwheat noodles above with a big spoonful of ginger-scallion sauce. For dinner I like to make an egg for each person I’m feeding, and then add it to a bowl of penne along with some crisped bits of pancetta, asparagus that’s been steamed until just tender and then cut into bite-sized pieces or some plump peas, and a drizzle of very good olive oil and very good balsamic vinegar. Toss it for a simple knock-off carbonara. If I have farro I will do the same thing but maybe add flakes of oil-soaked Italian tuna instead of the pancetta for more of a nicoise. Delicious.