Sunday, 7 March 2010

Egg poaching for dummies

I can't poach eggs. I just can't - it's like I can't cook rice. It just doesn't work for me. Please don't tell me that I need to make sure the eggs are really fresh or to put vinegar in the water or swirl it round and make a vortex or any of that, because I've TRIED IT and it doesn't work. I think it takes a steadier hand, or more patience, or something, but it's just not in my nature. Maybe it's because I'm a Taurus.

So I was intrigued when I was flicking through Peter Gordon's latest cookbook, fusion, by a recipe where he poaches eggs in a little cling-film parcel. I doubt it's because he, like me, can't poach eggs, but because he's poaching them with black vinegar (I had to look this up - it's a kind of Chinese rice vinegar), truffle oil, chilli and spring onion.

It's a pretty neat idea and it works (although the above picture is of just a plain egg poached in cling film, without the chilli and other exciting things) - kind of. I found that the 8 minutes cooking time PG recommended was a bit too long, but that, at a guess, was because my eggs weren't hot-off-the-hay-fresh.

Anyway here is the recipe for the poached eggs, found on p. 26 of Peter Gordon's excellent and exotic book. He serves the egg as a sort of starter-thing, on a bed of parmesan mashed potato and it goes like this:
1 egg
1 tsp black vinegar (you can get it from Waitrose...)
1 tsp white truffle oil
1 spring onion, chopped
1/2 red chilli, de-seeded and chopped

1 - Unroll about 40 cm of clingfilm and fold it over on itself to make a double thickness. Line a teacup with the film and put in the tsp of vinegar and the truffle oil.
2 - Scatter in some of the spring onion and chilli. Then crack in one egg.
3 - Gather up the sides of the cling film and tie at the top with a rubber band or a freezer bag tie. Here PG is keen you should leave no air bubbles inside (I guess so that the egg doesn't just float to the top of the pan when it's poaching, although I must have left some air in because mine did this, although it didn't affect its cooking much).
4 - Drop the egg bag into some boiling water and rapidly simmer it for 8 minutes if your egg is really fresh and a bit less if more mature. To unwrap the eggs, snip the tied-up top with some scissors if it's easier.

This method allows you to scatter all sorts of things that don't need a lot of cooking (or actually, even cooked things, little snippets of crispy bacon?) in with the egg and then poach it altogether in a little parcel, which looks pretty cool and clever. Which, come on admit it, is what we all long to be.

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