Citizens, a poached egg has been cooked in simmering liquid (usually water) combined with an acid such as vinegar or lemon juice, resulting in an extraordinary silken consistency.
The ‘perfect’ poached egg has a runny yolk, with a solidified white of identical or nearly identical consistency. The problem is that even a few seconds of over or undercooking ruins the eggs texture.
There is however, an alternative to this haphazard and fraught with pitfalls approach!
Onsen tamago (温泉卵) is a traditional Japanese low temperature egg which was originally slow cooked in the water of onsen hot springs in Japan.
Thanks to consistent temperatures, the egg has a unique texture – the white turns out like a delicate custard (milky and soft) and the yolk comes out firm, but retains the color and creamy texture of an uncooked yolk.
Modern chefs use an identical technique called “sous vide” to prepare the perfect poached egg.
Sous-vide (French for “under vacuum”, pronounced su-beef) is a method of cooking in which food is sealed in airtight plastic bags then placed in a water bath for longer than normal cooking time at an accurately regulated temperature much lower than normally used for cooking.
The intent is to cook the item evenly, ensuring that the inside is properly cooked without overcooking the outside, and to retain moisture.
This method of preparation is ideal for poached eggs because a very consistent and predictable result can be obtained with precise timing. An extraordinary article on the science of using the sous-vide technique to create a range of different egg yolk textures may be read here.
You can purchase a fantastic sous vide cooker by the startup company Nomiku for under $200, and you’ll soon find yourself using it over and over again for perfectly-cooked meats, vegetables and yes – eggs.
Every chef has their idea of what temperature constitutes a “perfect” poached egg – Thomas Keller says 62.5 degrees Celsius, I prefer 63 degrees. Find your own perfect time and temperature via experimentation! You can achieve ideal yolk texture from runny to firm but creamy by adjusting the times you leave your eggs in the water bath.
My poached eggs are served with a unique seasoning salt from the country of Georgia, combining fresh garlic with salt and other spices for a truly superb flavor!
Through sous-vide and TFD’s seasoning genius, the perfect poached egg awaits you, Citizens! 🙂
Battle on – The Generalissimo
For perfect soft-boiled eggs: place your eggs into a sous-vide cooker heated to 63 degrees centigrade. Cook for exactly 57 minutes if chicken eggs, 61 minutes if using duck eggs.
Leave the eggs in longer depending on how runny or firm you want your egg yolks. Put the eggs into an ice bath to stop cooking and until cool enough to handle.
Place the eggs back into boiling water and cook exactly 2 minutes and 30 seconds – this will set the egg white to perfection. Again, remove and allow to cool.
Crack eggs, and serve dusted with Svanetian salt (სვანური მარილ – preferred, recipe may be found on the fantastic Georgian Recipes site here ) or just combine finely ground black pepper, finely ground thyme, and finely ground salt for a lesser but still delicious flavor.
Garnish with thyme flowers if available.
Serve with bread for mopping up the unmatched yolk!