11/04/2011 11:04 am ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

How To Poach Eggs

For 60 years, The Culinary Institute of America has been setting the standard for excellence in professional culinary education. In this video series, experienced chefs and educators show you how to tackle essential cooking techniques.

Watch this video to learn how to poach an egg so that it is fluffy and thoroughly cooked.

Video Transcript

I'm Chef Scott Swartz from the Culinary Institute of America, and I'm going to show you this kitchen basic: how to poach an egg.

First we want to get our water ready for poaching. I'm going to turn my water on at medium heat. I want it to be at a simmer; very gentle small bubbles will tell me my water's ready. If I were going to use a thermometer, it'd be around 170 degrees.

I'm going to take my egg and crack it into a bowl. Cracking it into a bowl first is going to let me know that the yolk is whole, because that's a key thing in a poached egg, having a nice beautiful egg yolk. I'm going to add vinegar to the water to poach it; that will be important in the forming of the egg for poaching.

Poaching is gently submerging something in water until it cooks. I'm heating up my water, I'm going to look for small bubbles to form, and that's when I'm going to add the vinegar. If I add my vinegar too soon, it's going to evaporate and I'll lose the effects of the vinegar. I add approximately two ounces of vinegar for each quart of water. Then I take my egg with my bowl, and put it right down at the level of the water and gently pour it in. By bringing it down to that level, I'm less likely to break my yolk.

You notice the egg white is gathering tightly around the egg yolk, and that's what the vinegar is doing - it's helping to form that shape. I'm also watching the size of my bubbles. If they start to get too big, or move too rapidly, I'm going to break up my egg.

To properly poach an egg takes somewhere around four or five minutes. A properly poached egg has a fully cooked egg white, and a very soft warm runny egg yolk. I keep my water nice and low, and allow it to simmer for the rest of my four minutes. Now my egg's starting to float, and that tells me that my egg yolk and egg white are done. So I take a slotted spoon, because I want all that extra liquid to drip away from it, and I gently lift it out. If I touch the yolk, it should still bounce, and that bounciness tells me my yolk's not fully set.

I set it on a towel or a paper towel for a moment to drain all that extra water, so it doesn't get on my food, and then I gently slide it onto my plate. And how do I tell if this poached egg is cooked nicely? When I cut it, my yolk should run beautifully. And that's the sign of a perfectly poached egg.

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