Poaching takes a little learning, but it is an excellent, fat-free method of getting the most out of delicate foods like chicken, fish and eggs.
Poaching is a form of gentle boiling at a temperature—about 160°F to 180°F—just below a simmer (which itself is less than both a soft boil and a full boil). If you do not have a thermometer, you can tell the poaching liquid (often water or broth) is at the appropriate temperature if it is moving gently, but with no surface bubbles.
Look at the salmon in the photograph on this page. Note that the fish poaches in just a few inches of liquid (either water or wine). Salmon like these will poach for five to ten minutes. You can use a similar technique for poaching skinless chicken breasts. With experience you will get the timing right and be able to serve moist, succulent chicken and fish.
To poach an egg, it helps to add a dash of vinegar to about three inches of water (this keeps the whites together). It takes a delicate touch to break an egg and let the contents slide into the poaching liquid. Poach four to five minutes. The egg is perfect when the white is just a little firm but the yolk looks a little runny.
One disadvantage of poaching is that it does not brown foods, so often other methods are better for cooking red meats.