I love eggs and believe they are one of the most important elements of any type of cuisine. Eggs are great for so many reasons. They are quick to prepare, healthy, and contain good quality protein and healthy fats including omega 3 fats. There aren’t many other ingredients that are used by every country in the world for both savoury and sweet dishes. From the most obvious of a fried egg for breakfast, to a far more complicated black truffle and parmesan souffle, a Japanese chawanmushi umami custard or traditional vanilla ice cream, eggs play an extremely important role in creating taste and texture as well as adding nutritional value.
Eggs can actually be considered as three different ingredients – whole egg, egg yolk and egg white. Each one offers a huge range of advantages to the cook. With them, we thicken sauces, clarify a consommé (definition), and bind the ingredients of a cake. Eggs really are incredible. Try finding another ingredient which is as versatile!
Poached eggs are easy to order in a bistro for a Sunday brunch with a little steamed asparagus or some smoked salmon. They’re a little harder to master at home, but are very fulfilling once you’ve got the hang of them. When working in my dad’s hotel quite some years ago, I learnt how to poach eggs. They were a disaster at first! No-one had actually showed me how to do them. On my first day, I was handed an order for 2 poached eggs with smoked haddock. Oh dear. Thankfully the chef appeared and saved me. He/ she showed me a few little secrets about how to poach eggs using only a pan, a whisk and a spoon. I still use the same method now. I have never invested in an egg poaching cup or anything like that. You don’t need them. I like the being able to poach an egg without any special equipment, but still getting them to look like perfect balls of mozzarella cheese.
I am a huge fan of a poached egg on top of a slice of toasted country sourdough with only butter and Maldon sea salt. But since having more time at home recently, I have dreamt up some more combinations. How about toasted sourdough with soft goat cheese, avocado, lime and Japanese chilli flakes? Today, I fried some sourdough in olive oil to make little finger croutons, to have with poached eggs and some mushrooms and tomatoes, and a little fresh pesto and some spirulina flakes. But you can enjoy a poached egg with anything you like.
Add a good 50 ml of white wine vinegar to the water for your eggs. It helps to keep the eggs together. The water needs to be gently spinning to help keep the eggs round. Don’t let the water boil too hard or the egg can break. I always crack the eggs into a small coffee cup, then when the water is just right, gently slip them in. Don’t crack the shell on the side of the pan and drop the egg straight into the water, that just ain’t gonna work!! Eggs take about 3 mins to poach, so you need to have everything else you need for your dish ready and to hand before you start poaching.
Preparation for (almost) perfect poached eggs:
1. Half fill a medium sized pan with water and 50 ml of white wine vinegar.
2. Bring to the boil.
3. Crack your eggs separately into small cups.
4. When the water is boiling, give it a stir with a whisk or a spoon.
5. Reduce the heat so the water is boiling very gently, and slip in the eggs one at a time, but don’t drop them on top of each other.
6. Gently move them around the pan with a spoon to help them cook evenly.
7. Cook them for around 3 mins for a runny yolk or more if like them firm.
8. Using a spoon, gently lift the eggs out and check they are to your taste/ liking by squeezing the yolk between your thumb and forefinger.
9. Remove when ready and place on a paper kitchen towel for 30 seconds just to help dry them a little before adding to your plate.
10. Season with salt and pepper.
Hope you liked this recipe. If you tried it at home, please let us know how it went, we can't wait to see pictures of your sourdough and the whole process. Otherwise, you can find this recipe in Romanian here: Ouă poșate.