Microwaves usually don't produce quality poached eggs, but if you keep the eggs in an enclosed space so steam can build during cooking -- such as that of a microwave egg poacher -- you get good results. Nordic Ware makes the archetypal egg poacher -- two cavities, one for each egg, and a hinged cover. Almost all microwave egg poachers -- except silicone poaching cups -- use the same design, and you can apply the same directions to them. Use 80 percent power if you have a 700-watt microwave and 50 percent power if you have a microwave with higher wattage.
Crack one egg into each compartment. When cracking the eggs, tap them on their sides on a flat surface, never an edge; cracking on an edge can introduce bacteria into the egg. Pierce the yolks with a fork tine or toothpick and pour 1 tablespoon of water over the top of each egg. Close the poacher and microwave the eggs for 1 minute. Remove the poacher and open it to stop the cooking; carryover cooking will affect the doneness of the eggs if you keep the poacher closed.
Soft-cooked eggs are a bit tricky in a microwave egg poacher. You can shorten the cooking time, but part of the eggs will be firm and other parts soft since microwaves don't cook uniformly. The solution: Water. Just as the water on top of the eggs creates steam and regulates the doneness at the top, water at the bottom regulates the doneness at the bottom. Since you can't pour water in the egg compartment and add the eggs on top of it, you must put the bottom of the poacher in water.
Unhinge the top part of the Nordic Ware egg poacher -- the poacher comes apart easily for cleaning -- and set it aside. Place the egg poacher in a shallow microwave-safe container or dish. Crack an egg into each compartment of the poacher and pour about 1/2 tablespoon of water over them. Next, pour enough hot water in the dish to cover the bottom of the egg compartments, about 1 inch. Cover the container with plastic wrap and place it in the microwave. Microwave the eggs for 1 minute and check their doneness; they should be at the soft-cooked stage.
You don't need a Nordic egg poacher to poach eggs in the microwave; all you need is a microwave-safe bowl or cup. Crack an egg into the bowl or cup and pierce the yolk with a fork or toothpick. Pour 1/3 cup of water on top of the egg and set a microwave-safe plate on top of the bowl. Microwave the egg for 60 seconds. If undercooked, continue cooking in 10-second increments until the egg reaches the desired doneness. Scoop the egg out of the bowl with a slotted spoon and serve.
Safety and Tips
The most important safety precaution when microwaving an egg is piercing the yolk. Yolks are contained in a clear covering called the vitelline membrane. When microwaved, steam builds under the membrane and eventually bursts it.
Spray the compartments of the poacher with cooking spray before using it if you experience instances of sticking eggs. Remove eggs from the poacher using a spoon.
A drop or two of vinegar mixed with the water helps the eggs coalesce and prevents the "raggedy edge" look of the whites.