Poached eggs are eggs that have been cooked, outside from the shell, by poaching.
Poaching is a cooking technique that involves cooking by submerging food in a liquid, such as water, milk, stock or wine. Poaching is differentiated from the other “moist heat” cooking methods, such as simmering and boiling, in that it uses a relatively low temperature (about 70–80 °C (158–176 °F)). This temperature range makes it particularly suitable for delicate food, such as eggs, poultry, fish and fruit, which might easily fall apart or dry out using other cooking methods.
Poaching is often considered a healthy method of cooking because it does not use fat to cook or flavor the food.
Poached eggs are not difficult to make. The egg is cracked into a cup or bowl of any size, and then gently slid into a pan of water at approximately 75° C (167 °F) and cooked until the egg white has mostly solidified, but the yolk remains soft. The “perfect” poached egg has a runny yolk, with a hardening crust and no raw white remaining.
Recipes for poached eggs advocate the use of the freshest eggs possible because the yolk membrane will still be strong, and the egg white will cling firmly to the yolk in a mass and not trail off in feathers. The older the egg, the looser the white becomes.
Poached eggs are used in the traditional American breakfast dish Eggs Benedict. This dish consisting of two halves of an English muffin each topped with a Canadian bacon, poached egg, and hollandaise sauce. It was popularized in New York City.
Poached eggs are the basis for many dishes in Louisiana Creole cuisine, such as Eggs Sardou, Eggs Portuguese, Eggs Hussarde and Eggs St. Charles. Creole poached egg dishes are typically served for brunches.
Eggs Sardou is made with poached eggs, artichoke bottoms, creamed spinach and Hollandaise sauce. It is on the menu of many Creole restaurants in New Orleans, including Antoine’s, where eggs Sardou was invented, and Brennan’s. Eggs Sardou is named for Victorien Sardou, a famous French dramatist of the 19th century, who was a guest in New Orleans when the dish was invented.
The North African dish shakshouka consists of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, olive oil, peppers, onion and garlic, and commonly spiced with cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, and nutmeg. The word shakshouka is Maghrebi Arabic for “a mixture”. The dish has existed in Mediterranean cultures for centuries.
Turkish dish çılbır consists of poached eggs, yogurt sauce with garlic and butter with red peppers. There are records of çılbır being eaten by Ottoman sultans as far back as the 15th century. In several Balkan countries such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia, the Turkish word çılbır is rendered as čimbur and refers to a fried eggs dish.
In Korean cuisine, poached eggs are known as suran and is topped with variety of garnishes such as chili threads, rock tripe threads, and scallion threads.
In India, fried eggs are most commonly called “poached”.
Many distinctive dishes are garnished with a poached egg, including the traditional veal cutlet dish Wiener schnitzel – the famous curly endive and lardon salad of Lyon, France – the American breakfast steak – and corned beef hash.
When Charles Ranhofer, chef of the famous New York establishment Delmonico’s, published The Epicurean in 1893, various poached egg, seafood, and chicken dishes were featured as sophisticated menu offerings.