To cook a poached egg, heat 1 to 2 inches of water just until it starts to simmer. Crack and drop a fresh, cold egg into the water, and turn off the heat. Cover the pan, and cook the egg for three to five minutes, until the white is set.
A deep, straight-sided pan works best for poached eggs. You need just enough water in the pan to cover the eggs. The water should be hot with bubbles forming along the bottom and sides of the pan, but not boiling. Add salt to the water to season the poached eggs.
If you're only making one poached egg, create a whirlpool in the middle of the pan by stirring the water with a spoon. This reduces the risk of the egg spreading out in the water. If you're making more than one poached egg, don't swirl the water. Drop the eggs in still water with space between.
The typical poached egg has set whites, while the yolk is still slightly runny. When the egg is done cooking, use a slotted spoon to scoop the egg out of the water.
Another option is to poach an egg in the microwave by cracking an egg into a microwavable cup of water. Cover the cup with a saucer, and microwave the egg on high for about one minute.