Poached Eggs on Muffins Late Brunch
Image by Annie Mole via Flickr

Poaching sounds like it should be really easy and it can be, however it’s also very precise in terms of cooking time and this is what catches a lot of people out when poaching food. The main advantage of poaching is that it allows fragile food to be cooked gently.

Just like boiling you can use water or stock, but you can also use milk when poaching but unlike boiling you don’t want the liquid to boil at any point during the cooking process. The ideal temperature is between 80C and just below boiling point.

There are three different methods of poaching Deep, Shallow and Oven poaching

Shallow Poaching is when food is lowered gently into the liquid and removed individually. e.g.chicken or fish

Deep Poaching is when food is placed into deep liquid, sometimes on a rack. e.g. eggs or Salmon

Oven Poaching is when food is placed in a shallow dish with minimum liquid, then covered and cooked in an oven. e.g. chicken and salmon

There are many specific utensils that can be used for poaching such as bratt pans and fish kettles but you can also use your regular saucepans on the cooker top and oven proof dishes for oven poaching.

Another plus of poaching is that the liquid can generally be used to make some great sauces to go along with your dish. Poaching fish in milk? Use the poaching liquid to make a bechamel sauce, add some tarragon and nyom!

When poaching you must be gentle when immersing the food in the cooking liquid, and it should be removed from the liquid as soon as cooked, for this reason I use a timer whenever I’m poaching anything. if I’m poaching fish, I’ll set the timer a little short and check the fish just to make sure it doesn’t get overcooked.