Family Meals: Poaching 101

Family Meals: Poaching 101

Now that September’s around the corner, why not say hello to your kitchen stove again? Long time, no use! When you’re feeding a family, one of the most versatile, and simple cooking techniques you can learn is poaching.

What is Poaching?

To poach means to cook food in a small amount of barely simmering liquid until it is just tender. Fish, lean chicken, eggs, fruits, and other lean and delicate foods take well to poaching. The liquid in which the food is poached bathes it, gently cooking it and coaxing in subtle flavor.

It is a method that makes lean protein foods moist and tender. Whatever poaching liquid you use, you’re primarily cooking in water — rather than oil or butter. So it’s easy to put together lighter, lower-calorie dishes. And it’s such a delicious technique that, chances are, no one will miss the fat.

Different kinds of Poaching

Poaching liquid may be as basic as lightly salted water or as complex as an herb-infused tea:

  • Eggs are typically poached in salted water. Sometimes with a touch of vinegar that “sets” the proteins and keeps the egg in a neat package.
  • Fish is often cooked in a seafood broth called a court bouillon, seasoned with white wine, herbs, and spices.
  • Chicken may be poached in a broth-based liquid.
  • Fruits are typically poached in a simple syrup mixture. Peaches, in season in many parts of the country right now, take wonderfully to poaching.

Important tips about Poaching?

Poaching is a basic and minimal kind of cooking. However, there is a proper technique that must be followed with proper care and dedication. Here is the easiest guide about poaching.

Quantity of liquid:

Whatever the liquid, there must be enough in the pan to cover the food,  and the liquid needs to maintain a temperature between 160 degrees and 180 degrees F. If it gets too hot, you’re boiling, and that breaks down the food negatively affects its texture. You should be able to see a shimmering surface with no big bubbles.

Pots & Pans for Poaching:

Poaching pans vary in size and shape depending on the food sizes. Moreover, small foods like eggs can be poached in a shallow sauté pan. Chicken and fish are poached in a shallow sauté pan that has enough room for the liquid to cover and surround the food. Additionally, use a slotted spatula or spoon to lift the food out of the liquid onto a plate. Poaching is a reliable method for cooking whole fish or whole fillets of large fish. If you’ve got a birthday coming up, ask for an oval fish poacher with a fitted rack that allows you to lift out the whole fish when it is cooked.

Uniform Ingredients:

The ingredients need to be in uniform sizes so they cook at the same time.  However, do not crowd the pan; the food should swim freely in the liquid. Add foods to the simmering liquid just a little bit at a time, so you don’t reduce the poaching liquid’s temperature too fast.

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