Have you ever poached a dish before? You have probably done it already if you have at least tried to poach an egg before. What you may not have noticed is that there is a big difference between how to poach food, like an egg, and how to simmer food.
There are entire recipes that you can make that involve poaching food, and it isn’t a soup recipe. Simmering food is a common cooking technique that you use often, especially when it involves water. It’s a commonly used term and is pretty well understood. When you have a recipe that instructs you to “poach” food, do you know how to do that and how it’s different from simmering?
Both simmering and poaching require a liquid, usually water, to come to a boil. This means it needs to get hot enough to reach its boiling point. For water, that usually means around 100 degrees C or 212 degrees F.
What you do after water comes to a boil is what makes simmering and poaching very different.
To simmer water, bring water to a boil then lower the heat until the water is simmering. How can you tell? Small bubbles will appear on the surface of the water, usually at the edges of the water with the occasional bubble in the center. This is usually what you do when you’re cooking and tenderizing meats for nilaga, sinigang, and other soupy dishes.
To cook using the poaching method, here’s what you should do: once your water has come to a boil, you’ll want to reduce the heat until it’s no longer simmering but still hot. All this means is that bubbles shouldn’t even appear on the surface of the water. Wisps of steam can drift from the surface, but there should be no bubbles. You’ll have to gauge this as needed to get it just right.
Then all you have to do is add in your food, and let the heat of the water very gently cook your food which can take longer than if it were simmering.
These two different cooking techniques are easy ways to make a dish. You can actually poach many different kinds of food! Try these: