Poaching Eggs with Art and Technology

Korean summer noodles with pickled radishes, cucumbers, and poached egg
Onsen tomango, hot spring eggs, are described like this:

“The white has the texture of a really delicate custard while the yolk comes out firm, but retains the color and creamy texture of an uncooked yolk.”

In Japan the eggs are slow-cooked in natural hot springs which maintain a temperature of 160°F (71°C) to achieve a perfect balance between cooked and raw. I read about mimicking this by placing eggs and hot water in a thermos, but my results were mostly raw eggs suitable only for scrambling. To be honest, I’ve never succeeded making a good plate of spaghetti carbonara unless the eggs are essentially raw or scrambled.
break an egg
Without a Sous Vide Supreme I have not a hope of perfecting a slow cooked egg, so soft-cooked eggs seemed to be the next best option.

Mr. Tess makes nice soft boiled eggs to go on toast or over grits. Mine, even with his supervision (and my natural tendency to let my attention wander) turn out more like soft hard boiled eggs. Soft boiled eggs had been the closest I hoped to come to the mythical onsen eggs, though even the revered Cooks Illustrated magazine had difficulty establishing how to make the perfect soft-boiled egg a fool-proof proposition.

Cooks Illustrated’s recommendation for cooking soft boiled eggs is to shake them to center the yolk, then steam them.


Take a look at the article in the October 2012 “Food” edition of the NY Times Sunday magazine, (seen pictured in my post about Nom Nom Ramen in Philadelphia:)
Use your browser’s find function to search for “Andrea Geary” to read the part about soft-cooked eggs.

…When Geary finally sliced the cooling eggs in half, delectably runny yolks glistened in the precise centers of the barely set whites. Astonishment. This mother of all aha moments made me feel as if I just watched a high-school point guard heave a winning 55-foot jump shot at the buzzer,…

Then my brother amazed us with his Eggs Benedict! Poached eggs and Hollandaise Sauce! amazing wow!
Though not a slow cooked Japanese egg, a poached egg is both soft and runny and great for dripping and flowing into a bowl of noodles. I haven’t had the courage to mess up a pot with eggs flowing every which way, but Mr. Tess brought a gift from Philadelphia. They are called Poach Pods, silicone cups designed to make poaching an egg a fool-proof task. And yes, they do indeed work. He’s made us some beautifully poached eggs, and the clean-up is simple. Take a look at my Korean cold noodles with radish water kimchi!

Very well worth seeking out!

Click on a picture to view a carousel of images; then scroll down to read my comments on each one.

Or if you don’t want another one-use utensil in your kitchen drawers, below is a way to poach eggs in a pan of water, just as my brother did.

6 thoughts on “Poaching Eggs with Art and Technology

  1. Love your poached eggs on noodles idea. Is that shredded cucumber you have as a garnish? Is so good with broth. How come we only have cucumber in salads, pickles or sangas?
    I’m a bit of an egg fancier but I couldn’t take to the slow cooked eggs in Japan. Wrong mouth feel for me.
    Mr Tess brings good presents. Remember the onigiri he carried in his pocket?

    • Having eggs on noodles, rice, donburi, vegetables, soup, or hot-pots is common for lunches in Asian cuisine. Poached just seemed a natural use for Mr. Tess’ prezy. I’d love to visit Japan someday, maybe not specifically to taste the onsen eggs, but to stay in an onsen. We’ve been to California and Washington state where we experienced hot springs and though it was decades ago, the experiences were lovely. The hot tub in Hollywood, Florida, late at night and alone, was a mere shadow of the originals. Hmm. maybe not.

      I like cucumbers in all sorts of meals. These were julienned with my dangerous mandoline just days after I’d managed to injure myself with a shallow but wide cut using an ordinary vegetable peeler. I was very very careful and did not think twice about tossing out the last inch and a half of the cucumber end. Too close to the edge!

      Yes, those onigiri. in his pocket.

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