Why You Shouldn't Swirl the Water When You Poach Eggs
Poaching eggs can be really intimidating. They're only eggs, but something about poaching them turns me into an incredibly frazzled person. And I'm not the only one. The internet is full of tips and tricks on how to avoid overcomplicating and overcooking your poached eggs. There are gadgets that are very cheap and very expensive that promise to help you with your egg poaching.
But as I've learned in culinary school, to my medium distress, the way I had been poaching eggs all along has some drawbacks. You see, I had always gone by the whirlpool method: You bring your water to a simmer and then give it a stir, drop in the egg, and the egg makes joyful little circles in the pot. Plus, the centerfuge means that the egg stays together, which is one of the major things that can go wrong with poaching an egg.
Swirling the water works! At home, if you're making one egg for yourself, there's no reason why you shouldn't. But if you want to prepare more than one egg, and if you want them to look good, like restaurant-poached eggs, it has a couple drawbacks. The first and most major one is that you can't really poach more than one egg at a time with the whirlpool method. It becomes egg yolk bumper cars, which is bad. Second, when you swirl the egg, it means that the outer white and the inner white merge together, meaning you can't trim the outer white away to make it a gorgeous, Thomas Keller-worthy egg.
What should you do instead? Use a lot of vinegar in your water. No really, a lot. You want to essentially change the Ph of the water so that the egg sticks together. Using fresher eggs will also help with that. And don't worry about the vinegar taste—you can always wash that off later.