Saturday, September 15, 2007

Getting Poached

There are some foods I can't resist when they're on a menu. Creme brulée. Wild mushroom anything. And poached eggs. Even when they're included in a dish that I'm not all that crazy about, like hash (don't really enjoy bell peppers unless they're roasted) or eggs Benedict (English muffin and Canadian bacon? Eh...). But they feature those eggs, and something about them causes me to lose all sense of perspective.

Maybe it's the same as the appeal of the brulée, like that great scene in Amélie where there's a tight close-up of a spoon cracking the caramelized sugar crust and the soft custard is revealed underneath, like opening a present and finding something delightful inside. Though the oozing of the orangey-yellow yolk over the firmer texture of the white is part of it, too. Not to mention the flavor of a fresh egg, hopefully organic, from the farmers' market, an added treat.

Growing up we had an egg poacher with four little cups that were set over a pot of boiling water. We never used it much, and it seemed I couldn't get the timing right, meaning the yolks were invariably solid and the whites rubbery. So I resigned myself to only having them at restaurants, though friends would say, "Oh, they're so easy to make at home." Then I'd try again, and the white would disperse into a foamy mess and the yolk would either break or bob in the water like a lost child.

Then I learned the secret. I'm not sure of the source (an article? podcast? TV?), but somewhere I heard that if you add a teaspoon of vinegar to the water in the pan, it helps the whites congeal and the egg stays together. What took me so long to find this out? How could I have missed something so basic for so long? But with that simple suggestion I was finally able to make my favorite breakfast of toast and a poached egg whenever I wanted. What a gift!

2 comments:

Loo said...

I ADORE poached eggs but sadly have always found that I can taste the vinegar... maybe I use too much? Anywho, if the water is at just a simmer, and you slide that puppy in there just so, I have managed to make vinegar-less poached eggs that don't look like they exploded somewhere along the line.

Rosey's thought bubble of course is: You gonna finish that?

kab said...

One suggestion for those who can taste the vinegar (I can't; Brendan can) is to have a bowl of hot water standing by to dip the egg in after it's cooked to wash off the vinegar.

And Rosey is practicing using her mind power to will it to tip off the edge and onto the floor. (I thought I saw it shift ever-so-slightly.)