How to poach an egg.

Or perhaps more appropriately… How I poach my eggs.

Eggs are one of my favourite breakfast foods. Bacon being the ultimate companion to eggs, and hash browns their illegitimate half brother. When asked how I’d like my eggs, I will 9 times out of ten say poached. I don’t know what it is, but poaching eggs seems to me to be the most true to form way to appreciate the luscious eggy goodness, as the yolk spills out in a molten lava like cascade of yellow gold into a well toasted slice of thick crusty bread.

Until recently however, I’d be using the lazy mans method of poaching eggs. That is, fill a frying pan with a couple of centimetres of water… get it to a simmer, crack in some eggs, and gently splash water over the surface of the yolk until it turns a nice shade of pink. The end.

This method works ok… but I’d always wondered how cafes and restaurants managed to serve me those great little poached egg cocoons… with the white wrapped around the yolk in a tight protective little ball, waiting to gush out as soon as its cut into.

So enter Gordon Ramsey to save the day. I should have known i’d find my salvation from a loud annoying Englishman who swears too much… Actually, for all his short comings as a general human being, Gordon makes some great food, and the book he put out after the Kitchen Hell series was full of a great set of “basic” cooking techniques to know… like how to dry lettuce leaves, how to make a white sauce, how to fillet, pinbone, and skin fish… and… how to poach an egg.

The technique is really very simple, but I love the results.


Get a large heavy based pot and fill it with water. Get the water boiling and season it well with white wine vinegar. The vinegar helps to strengthen the albumin in the egg white, which will make it hold together, and give a nice rounded shape.

Then, using fresh eggs (which is important, as fresh eggs will have the white clinging to the yolk quite strongly), crack them into a shallow cup to make sure they aren’t broken. Then use a slotted spoon to spin the boiling water into a sort of a whirlpool/vortex/worm hole in the space time continuum.

Once the water is spinning quite fast, drop the egg from the cup into the centre of the whirlpool, where it will spin around and hopefully coat the yolk all around in a nice little ball of the egg white as it hardens. You can do a couple of eggs at a time if you’re feeling adventurous, but I normally stick to one to make sure i’m not going to mash one up while I’m spinning the water again.

This method needs only a minute or two in the boiling water for the egg to be ready, with the yolk still at a nice thick but runny consistency (which is exactly how I like it), having been sheilded from the heat, snug in the wooley cotton brains of infancy (sorry, Jim Morrison flashback).

So if you’re a self confessed egg lover, yet to experience the glorious highs of true yolk appreciation… give this method a try and let me know what you think.

Poached Duck Eggs Prick me, do I not exude yolk Nectar of the birds