Whether plopped on top of your avo toast or paired with a roasted sweet potato, a water-cooked egg is a delicious (and healthy, obvs) way to add some vegetarian-friendly protein to your brekkie. But it’s also one of the more intimidating stovetop techniques. Scrambled? No problem. Over easy? Sure. But poached? That’s an expert cooking method, right?
Whether plopped on top of your avo toast or paired with a roasted sweet potato, a water-cooked egg is a delicious way to add some vegetarian-friendly protein to your brekkie.
Not so, says Nick Korbee. The chef at the always-mobbed New York City brunch destination Egg Shop has spent hours in the kitchen refining the process—and has landed on a five-step plan to perfectly poach your eggs every single time.
And you don’t need to wait in line at the restaurant to learn how it’s done. In advance of the release of Egg Shop: The Cookbook, Korbee’s sharing his technique—plus passing along the recipe for his life-changing smashed avocado and poached egg toast, so you can make a meal out of it.
Keep reading to get his step-by-step guide to making the perfect poached egg—and a brunch-worthy recipe to pair it with.
1. Get the water temperature right
According to Korbee, it should be between 175 and 180°F. “You should be able to see tiny champagne-like bubbles,” he says.
2. Add some acid
“Two tablespoons of vinegar, lemon juice, or ACV all work,” he says. “Just don’t use one that’s too colorful, like red wine vinegar, or it will make your eggs look weird.” Once you land on your add-in, mix it into your almost-boiling water.
3. Crack the egg
“The idea is that the closer to the surface you can release it into simmering water, [the better],” Korbee says. If you go for a dramatic drop, he adds, “the whites will immediately separate and gravity will rip it apart.” (Hello, #yolkfail!) Korbee likes to get his fingers as close to the surface as possible and forgoes using a cup or extra tools to assist in the cracking.
4. Test it
Korbee says that this is the most crucial part of the whole poaching process. In order to tell when your egg is ready, raise it gently out of the water. “You can test it by wiggling to see if it’s set to your liking,” he says. “And whatever you do, please don’t cook the yolk!”
5. Scoop it out
Once it’s passed the jiggle test, carefully scoop out your poached egg from the water—it’s ready to serve!
Now that you’ve perfected poaching, go all-out with Korbee’s recipe for smashed avocado and poached egg toast, from Egg Shop: The Cookbook.
Smashed avocado and poached egg
Makes 1 sandwich
Juice of 2 lemons, plus 1 lemon wedge
1 tsp kosher salt
2 sliced multigrain bread, toasted
3 slices heirloom tomato
1 poached egg
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp fresh lemon zest
Fresh mixed herbs of your choice (Suggested: parsley and dill)
1. Halve, pit, and peel the avocado.
2. In a large bowl, use a fork to mash the avocado. Remember, you aren’t making guacamole—the smash should have some funky chunk to it, with some smooth parts, some baby bits, and a few big mama bits.
3. Add the lemon juice and salt. (This will last for about two days in an airtight container, with plastic wrap pressed onto the surface of the smash to prevent oxidation. Press down to eliminate any air pockets that might also cause the pesky brown spots.)
4. Spread avo smash on both pieces of toast. Cut one slice in diagonally in half and top the other with tomato slices and the poached egg.
5. To serve, slightly separate the halved avo toast and place the other half with the tomato and poached egg on top. Finish the toasts with the herb salt, lemon oil, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Top with a little fresh herb salad.
Each week we spotlight a healthy-delish recipe that’s truly genius (and easy to make) from someone who’s wowed us in the food world. We’re talking buzzy cookbook authors and Instagram foodies to brilliant chefs. Get more must-try, mind-blowing ideas from the Recipe of the Week archive.