J. Kenji López-Alt on Series Eats and Modernist Cuisine
Inspired by Kenji’s technique on Serious Eats, we wanted to create a process for consistent poached eggs with a semi-set yolk. This yolk texture is popular among our friends in Sydney, Australia. The yolk should be like the centre of a chocolate fondant and gently ooze onto the buttered toast.
This two-stage technique involves firstly cooking the eggs to an equilibrium core temperature in their shells and then cracking them open to briefly poach them. To make the eggs easy to handle once they are out of their shells, we use a sieve. This makes it easy to transfer them into and out of the boiling water.
Our work on this technique is focussing on the process of handling the eggs once out of the water bath. In all other respects, we are simply using Kenji’s technique. Where we divert is in handling the eggs after cooking; we treat them like raw eggs and crack them onto a slotted spoon to dispose of the loose whites before then sliding them into a sieve. We wanted to develop a technique where we didn’t need to peel open a ‘window’ in the egg as we realised we are pretty slow at that. We are thinking along the lines of serving breakfast for friends. We want to be able to process a number of eggs together. It’s still a little dull having to push away those loose whites, but we find it a little faster than dealing with egg shells.
We tried cracking the egg directly into the simmering water but the loose white will quickly coagulate and stick to the outside of the egg. This gives the egg a strange, textured appearance rather than smooth and sexy. If you’re not concerned about this, however, it is an effective and speedy technique that does not require additional tools.
It is remarkable how a small difference in temperature can impact the texture of the yolk. Kenji’s work—and those before him—revealed this, including a beautiful spread in Modernist Cuisine. We tried 63.5°C / 146°F and the yolks were too viscous; though, disappointingly, we have experienced some variations here which are hard to pin down.
We like this technique because it involves actually poaching the eggs. Most water bath techniques are not technically poaching, although they replicate the properties of a poached egg. Our favourite of these is our own water bath poached-style eggs.
1 hour 5 minutes total: 5 minutes attended, 1 hour unattended
100 g (servings 1 )