How to make perfect poached eggs

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The humble egg is the greatest muscle-building tool in any man's fridge: versatile, delicious, a complete source of protein and a repository of good fats. The key to not getting bored? Mastering its many forms. You should already have scrambling, frying and hard-boiling in the bag, but poaching is the ultimate oeuf-based skill: it can easily go wrong, but also makes the tastiest egg. Everyone has their own method, but which is best? Tom Hope, head chef at the prestigious Imperial restaurant, takes us through it.

Wrong turns

Still using the 'vortex' method? Ditch it. 'The only time you need to whirlpool the water is if your pan isn’t deep enough,' says Hope.
'I've also never been a believer in the "take it off the boil and cook for ages" approach. As far as other things that can go wrong, the most common ones would be using too much vinegar and tainting the taste of the eggs, the water not being deep enough for the eggs to form a teardrop and the water boiling so quickly that the eggs break up.' There you have it.

The right stuff

Proper poaching starts in the supermarket. 'The biggest thing that goes wrong is if the eggs aren’t fresh!' says Hope. 'They are impossible to poach without the yolk and white separating. Bring a deep pan of water to the boil and add a splash of white wine vinegar. Turn down to a simmer and crack the eggs into little pots - a small cup will do - before dropping them slowly into the water. Leave for 4 to 5 minutes to poach and then lift out with a slotted spoon. Be sure to season with salt before serving.'

A bit on the side

Once you've mastered poaching, add a healthy accompaniment. 'For a hit of healthy fat, crushed avocado, lemon chilli and coriander on toasted sourdough with a couple of poached eggs is delicious for both breakfast or a late night snack,' says Hope. 'Alternatively, I tend to go the whole hog and have mine with bacon!' You may now scoff disdainfully at anyone you spot eating an egg-white scramble: you've earned it.

Joel Snape

From 2008 to 2018, Joel worked for Men's Fitness, which predated, and then shared a website with, Coach. Though he spent years running the hills of Bath, he’s since ditched his trainers for a succession of Converse high-tops, since they’re better suited to his love of pulling vans, lifting cars, and hefting logs in a succession of strongman competitions.