A poached egg by any other name may possibly be the same. But it’d need to be a poached egg, not a pale simulation of a poached egg. So what is a poached egg and how should it be made and served in breakfast restaurants and cafes?
In approaching this question, I speak with the authority of a poached egg lover with over four decades serious experience; someone who thinks he has mastered the prep and technique for the perfect poached egg; an ardent orderer of poached eggs the world over; and a poached egg eater who is occasionally delighted with what appears on the plate but more often is disappointed, vowing never again to eat poached eggs outside my own kitchen.
My present reflection is borne of true love for the poached egg and my optimism that things can only get better. The disappointment I experience, I should add, is often not just with the eggs on the plate, but also with some of the things that accompany them. ‘Two poached eggs, please, on toast’, I request of the server. ‘Yes, some Roma tomatoes on the side would be nice, thank you’. ‘No, no Hollandaise sauce, just the poached eggs on toast with the tomatoes’.
The tomatoes usually are fine, but two fine looking eggs so often arrive on or near toast that you could trampoline on. Far too thick and chewy. Sourdough by the inch. Oops – 2.5 cm. Far too much a feature on its own. And sometimes even without butter on it! The eggs should be the feature, not the toast. Thinner than thick the toast should be and not a masticatory challenge of its own.
Now I love sourdough, but by the time I find the butter and apply it to the toast, retrieve the eggs and place them where they belong, I am undone. My eggs look so forlorn. Easing my knife in hope, readying myself for the golden goodness, what do I find?
I find the eggs are anything but just right. The yolks, instead of being beautifully yellow and runny, are pale and hard, near hard, semi hard or heading that way. If I wanted a hard boiled egg with the shell off, or a semi scrambled egg, I would have asked for it.
The eggs must be free range; and not mean, little things. They should be a good size, preferably jumbo, and fresh. This helps bring the true golden yellow, runny yolk into its own.
And when made to perfection, the perfect eggs should be served pronto, in all their glory to the diner by the proud server who proclaims the marvel of the poached eggs. They shouldn’t be left sitting on the kitchen bench firming under their own heat while waiting for other orders to be filled before being served.
So, to the breakfast restaurants and cafes of Fremantle, please take to heart the mission of the perfectly made and served poached egg. This really is a serious business.
We, the poached egg aficionados of Freo expect so much more and, as of now, we are on your case!