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Chef Mitesh Rangras tells you how to make perfectly poached eggsKusumita DasMumbaiSep 24, 2017, 09:52 IST
Poached snapper paupiette with lemon turmeric veloute and spring greens
Poaching, the French technique of gentle and slow cooking, is something several home cooks try without much success. Common stumbling blocks are nailing the flavour and texture, especially in the case of poached eggs, as seen in the classic, Eggs Benedict. Mitesh Rangras, culinary director, Sid Hospitality Group, who often employs the technique in his home kitchen, says, "Poaching is ideal for delicate and fragile ingredients like fish and eggs, and also, certain fruit.
Most people who try this at home are usually not satisfied with the texture they arrive at. For instance, in the case of poached eggs, a common problem is that it becomes too soft and slimy in the centre. Not to mention, bland."
Seasoning is of utmost importance in poaching, Rangras points out. "And by that I mean, seasoning the liquid. I feel people trying to poach don't end up respecting the liquid as much as they ought to. If you are trying to poach eggs, you need to season the water with salt, black pepper, chilli flakes, or whatever else you like. It's the water that will lend the egg the flavour you want."
Chef Mitesh Rangras
While there are techniques a dime a dozen of poaching eggs, Rangras shares one he feels is hard to go wrong with. "Take a cup, put a cling wrap inside and break an egg into it. Tie up the wrap and put it in the seasoned boiling water for two minutes. Remove and cut the plastic off. Your poached eggs are ready, with a perfect gooey centre."
For poaching fish, one needs to remain mindful of the temperature and the time. "Prawns usually don't take too well to poaching, but, if you must, ensure you poach them whole, with the shell. If you are poaching around a kilo, under-cook them. If you feel they will take seven minutes, take them out in four. Overcooking is the most common mistake we make. We tend to confuse poaching with boiling. But, the former is a gentle manner of cooking, relaxed, and never rushed. You must never crank up the temperature, whether it is with meat, fish, eggs or fruit." In the case of chicken, the chef recommends poaching a whole chicken with bones. "The skin of the whole chicken along with the bones retains the heat well and gives it a balanced texture, if poached for 30 minutes."
There is no rule book to follow when it comes to poaching fruits, like pears and berries. "It depends on how tart or soft the fruit is. Typically, poach for not more than five minutes. In the case of berries, under three minutes. It's always better to poach pears and berries in wine, where you add a little wine to the sugar syrup, bring it to a boil, put your fruits in it, and simmer for five minutes. Remove it, rest it and cool it before eating."
A thumb rule in poaching, Rangras adds is "to rest the ingredient once poached. A substantial part of the cooking is done during the resting period. Patience is required."
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