What is Poaching?
Poaching is a moist heat cooking technique for cooking delicate food items that can dry up or easily break apart while boiling or simmering. Usually for poaching, egg, fish, fruits, gnocchi and poultry are used. It is a healthy cooking method that uses no oil to flavor or cook the ingredient.
Poaching is done at 71-85 °C by submerging the food in a liquid that is barely bubbling at the surface, but small bubbles form at the base of the pot. The cooking time should be minimum for retaining the flavor, shape and texture. It is important to note that for poaching chicken, the internal temperature should be 74 °C for safe consumption.
For the Poaching medium, also called cuisson, you can use water, wine, stock or milk, either alone or in combination. Typical combinations are water with vinegar for eggs, stock for poultry, white wine for fish and red wine for fruits.
Seasonings, flavor aromatics and an acid source are added, and its choice depends on the type of the main ingredient. The flavor aromatics- bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, star anise, cinnamon, clove, and garlic are tied in cheesecloth, held with a string and added to the liquid as a bundle. An acid source, usually, wine, lemon juice, vinegar, sour orange juice or verjuice, is added to speed up the coagulation of protein.
Poaching is done in two ways:
1) Shallow Poaching: In shallow poaching, the portion of the food is small and bite sized for quick cooking. Fish fillet or skinless-boneless chicken breasts are used. The food is 2/3 rd immersed in the warm poaching liquid and covered with a lid. Covering with a lid generates steam for cooking the portion of the food that is exposed. As there is an exchange of flavor, the poaching liquid is sometimes reduced and used as a sauce or garnish.
2) Deep Poaching: The food is completely immersed in a well-seasoned poaching liquid and cooked till done. Usually, eggs, whole chicken and fruits are poached by this method.