There’s a running joke between me and my roommate that all we eat, regardless of whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, is toast and eggs. She scrambles, I poach. Sometimes, when we’re feeling wacky, we’ll have cheese or spinach with it.
It took me years to figure out how to poach an egg. Aside from the inherent frustration with not being able to do this seemingly simple thing, it was annoying because it made me order bad restaurant eggs. I can’t remember when or where, but the last bad poached egg was so awful that I resolved to figure it out for myself.
Trick #1: add a tablespoon of vinegar (or some other acid, such as lemon juice) to the cooking water. When the acid reacts with the egg white, it forms a skin. This skin helps the egg stay together as a nice, round object – as opposed to a floaty mess of goo.
Trick #2: keep the water at a low simmer. This is trickier than it sounds. If the water isn’t bubbling enough, then the egg will spread out and form the aformentioned floaty mess of goo. On the other hand, an egg dropped into water that is boiling too vigorously will disintegrate…into a floaty mess of goo.
Hrm. I see an emerging theme.
Trick #3: swirl the water before you drop the egg in. A mini-whirlpool will force the egg into the middle of the swirl, encouraging it to form one cohesive unit. As opposed to – you guessed it – a floaty mess of goo.
These are my tricks, and I know others who swear by ladles and black magic. All in an attempt to avoid the goo monster.