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Recipe: How to Poach an Egg


Be organised. Eggs will take 2 -3 minutes to poach. The toast needs to be on and the bacon needs to be nearly crisp before you start poaching.


Eggs, for one serving
10 cm Water, use up to 12cm in a pot
1 splash Vinegar
1 pinch Salt, optional
1 serving Bread, toasted
1 serving Bacon


  • Use a pot, not a frying pan. Fill the pot with 10-12cm of water and bring to a rolling boil.
  • Add a splash of vinegar — any type will do, I even use balsamic if I do not have a white vinegar or lemon juice. The vinegar helps set the white and make it more white.
  • Add a pinch of salt. (Optional, I do not bother).
  • With a slotted spoon, create a whirlpool with the boiling water.
  • Take the eggs from the fridge. Crack them directly into the pot, no more than 4 at a time — any more will chill the water down too much and it will stop boiling. With the spoon, keep the whirlpool going.
  • Fresh eggs will sink a little in the boiling water. The white should also stay attached to the egg. If it falls away, the egg is not fresh but you can still eat it.
  • While the eggs are cooking, put the toast on the plates and lay the bacon on the toast.
  • Using the slotted spoon, remove the eggs (some people trim the white to make the egg look more perfect) and place on toast and bacon.
  • Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

When they're in season, serve your eggs with tomatoes, cut into quarters and pan-fried in butter for 5 minutes or until just tender but not turning to a mush.

Storage of eggs

Eggs will last longer if kept in the fridge. For poaching, I will use directly from the fridge but for baking, you need to bring them out 30-60 minutes beforehand to come to room temperature.

To poach eggs for a large group

You can pre-poach eggs and put them into a water-bath (bowl) of cold water until needed. To warm through, put them in simmering water for 20-30 seconds and serve. This is how large hotel kitchens cope with poached eggs en masse.


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Celia Hay

Celia is a qualified chef and holds the WSET (London) Diploma of Wine. She has a Bachelor of Arts in History, Master of Education (Distinction) and MBA Master of Business Administration from the University of Canterbury.

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The School

Founded by Celia Hay, the New Zealand School of Food and Wine opened its first campus in Christchurch in 1995.

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