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A perfectly poached and plated egg. Let’s dwell on that for a moment.

It can be described as art on a plate, a dish that is the epitome of simplicity and finesse. One that is a pleasure to be served in a café.

So how do you perfect the process from preparation to plating? And do it consistently?

It is an open secret that the fresher the egg, the firmer the white. Which quite simply means the egg will hold together when cooked. A firm white will cook through more evenly, reducing the risk of the dreaded 'runny white' around the yolk.

A perfectly cooked poached egg

Search engines and popular opinion suggest that eggs 3 to 5 days old are the most suited for poaching. However, ensuring that level of freshness, consistently, may be a tough ask for a busy café.

Just so you don’t have to, we’ve tested a few techniques to find the most effective and consistent way to poach the perfect egg.

Poached eggs and toast
Poached eggs a la Julia Child

We started with a tough one and tested Julia Child's delicate method of piercing the eggshell with a pin to make an air-hole. Boiling the egg for 10 seconds. And then gently cracking it into simmering water with a drop of vinegar. The result? Perfection. But imagine replicating this repeatedly during a busy morning service!

To v or not to v?

We took that question head on and sought to settle the vinegar vs no vinegar debate. Turns out this ain’t an old Chef’s tale, its supported by science! Adding a spoonful of vinegar prevents the molecular structure of the egg white from breaking down, so you get a firmer, neater poached egg. A bonus is that you don't have to be as particular about the freshness of the egg.

Get the temperate right

If you’ve read around, you’d have found that many poaching recipes tell you to 'place the egg in boiling water'. The key to that, however, is the interpretation of 'boiling'. Though there’s no technical definition for the stage between a simmer and a rolling boil, the ideal temperature parameter for poaching an egg is between the two. To enhance your chances of getting a neat round egg, give the water a swirl and gently drop the egg near the centre.

In an eggshell – it is a combination of a splash of vinegar, the right temperature and a swirl. Add in hot toast, spinach leaves, ham and a dollop of KNORR Hollandaise Gluten Free Sauce – and you’re sure to plate the perfectly poached 'Benedict' style egg.