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I have been poaching chicken breast (below 100 degree celsius) as my main source of protein for a long time. I know it is normal to see white foam in the water, but mine is waaay too much. I think the white foam is protein, and because I cannot store the soup, that is a huge protein loss for me

https://i.sstatic.net/7csUj.jpg , the chicken has already been transferred out, but it is so cloudy with the extreme amount of foam in the water that you cannot see the bottom of it

I want to know how can I reduce the amount of foam when poaching chicken breast. I have a cooking thermometer, but I can only use rice cooker which only have two settings: cook and keep warm (landlord restricts me on what I can use to cook)

How I usually prepare it:

  1. Put 500g of sliced thawed chicken breast into 600ml of water (basically to make sure all chicken is submerged in water)
  2. Heat it up to about 75 degree celsius in cook mode for 13 minutes (usually inner temperature of one of the chicken slice is around 55 degree celsius)
  3. Turn off heat for 3 minutes, water usually remain at 70+ degree celsius, chicken slice raise to about lower end of 6X degree celsius
  4. Turn on heat at lower temperature in keep warm mode for another 3 minutes, to let chicken slice stay at ~65 degree celsius for at least a few minutes and make sure bacteria have been killed
  5. Turn off heat, transfer the chicken into container for storage
  • I want to some general directions on where I can improve. Like add more water, try adding salt, cut the chicken in bigger pieces to reduce surface area?
  • For some reason, thawing frozen chicken breast in the fridge for 24 hours still make a bit of ice not fully melted...
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  • I usually end up with way more "foam" when sauteeing chicken that was cut while frozen. If you can either cut it before freezing, or cook it whole, you most likely would end up with less (but I don't know for sure)
    – Esther
    Jul 19, 2022 at 14:38
  • A sous vide is what you need.
    – Candid Moe
    Nov 3, 2022 at 12:02
  • To avoid wasting the cooking water, consider using it to make rice once the chicken is poached. You can also make a batch of rice with chicken cut into small pieces on top of it, so they steam as the rice is cooking, so the juices soak into the rice
    – Joe
    Nov 4, 2022 at 16:06

3 Answers 3

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I would recommend that you try to use ‘fresh’ (not previously frozen) meat, especially if you are freezing it yourself.

Freezing meat will damage cell structure (due to ice crystals forming in them) which will cause protein-laden liquid to leak out when it thaws, which I suspect is your problem.

Commercially frozen meat is frozen quickly, which reduces the damage, but doesn’t always eliminate it entirely. (And pre-packaged meat at American Grocery stores might actually be previously frozen)

If for some reason you need to rely on a freezer (because you can only go shopping once every few weeks or similar), you may want to consider poaching batches of chicken and then freezing it. I personally either use zip-top freezer bags for whole breasts, or shred it and pack it into heavy duty deli containers with a little poaching liquid to fill any air voids, or keep it on the fridge for a couple of days. I can then thaw it and use it in casseroles, tacos, etc.

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Maybe not be an optimal answer since it requires some purchasing, but you could seal the chicken in vacuum-sealed bags before poaching, which would keep everything intact during the process.

You can do this with ziplock bags and press out excess air. Just make sure that they are heat resistant.

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A few ideas:

  • use whole chicken breasts/larger cuts to reduce surface area, as you mentioned
  • make sure the chicken is fully thawed (take it out earlier or defrost in microwave)
  • wait for the water to boil before putting the chicken in to reduce the amount of time it spends in the water
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  • I don’t know how it affects foaming, but I always start the water boiling, drop in the chicken, let it return to a boil for a minute or so, then put a lid on and turn the heat down. I’m doing it more to try to sterilize the outside of the chicken parts, though.
    – Joe
    Nov 4, 2022 at 15:50

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