Poached Fish Recipe
Poaching is an Easy Way to Cook Fish
A method very much like steaming, poaching is a great way to cook fish. One of the main reasons this author enjoys poaching fish is that the fish pretty much retains its original texture. This means that it doesn't fall apart when it's done cooking--always a plus!
It's a little harder to overcook fish using this method but it still can be done. Be sure and study the time table below for the approximate poaching times. It is a very fast method for cooking fish but the flavor is incredible.
Also keep in mind that the thickness or kind of the fish is really important when it comes to poaching. For instance, Dover sole is a very flat, thin fish and takes only a fraction of the time that a thick salmon steak will take to reach maximum doneness.
Test your fish every few minutes to be assured it's cooking but not overcooked. Again, though poaching is a preferred way to keep fish from drying out, you can still overcook fish by steaming it for too long.
- 2 pounds salmon or other fish fillet, (pin bones removed)
- 2 teaspoons olive oil, (substitute cooking spray)
- 1 medium sweet onion, (cut in long slices)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/4-1/2 cup dry vermouth, (or dry white wine)
- 1/4 cup water, (or vegetable broth)
- dash kosher salt
- 2 sprigs fresh dill, (or use dried dill weed)
- fresh lemons, (sprinkle before cooking or after and serve fresh slices atop fish or with fish)
|Serving size: 4 ounces|
|Calories from Fat||108|
|% Daily Value *|
|Fat 12 g||18%|
|Saturated fat 2 g||10%|
|Unsaturated fat 4 g|
|Carbohydrates 1 g|
|Sugar 0 g|
|Fiber 0 g|
|Protein 23 g||46%|
|Cholesterol 67 mg||22%|
|* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.|
- Use a large pan such as a sauteusse pan with a lid--preferrably one that has steam vents. Or use a specialty poaching pan. Any large pan will do but the pan needs to have a rack fit into the bottom to keep the fish out of the poaching liquid.
- Sweat (saute lightly) the onion and garlic in the olive oil over medium heat. When onions become translucent, that's perfect.
- Add water, soy sauce and dry vermouth to the pan and stir to combine. You should have enough liquid to cover the bottom of the pan and onions just barely.
- Add fresh dill and/or dried dill weed and any other spices such as peppercorns to the poaching liquid.
- Place wire rack on top of onion mixture in pan--bring the poaching liquid to a slow boil.
- Wash and dry salmon or fish fillet. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt. Place fillet atop the rack in the pan. Cover with lid.
- Reduce heat until just simmering and set timer for 5-7 minutes. Check every few minutes until fish begins to flake.
- Remove immediately to platter with large wide spatula. Remember if you cover the fish with foil, it will continue to cook a bit--maybe 5 or so degrees--so make sure you take it out of the poaching steam at the right stage of doneness. Slice and serve with fresh lemon slices atop or on the side.
Step By Step Guide to Poached Fish
Start with a large pan that is good for poaching. You can buy specialty pans but any pan with a tight fitting lid will do. This pan is a sauteusse pan which has built in steam holes--perfect for this job!
Begin adding flavoring ingredients. I traditionally always use onion and a little bit of minced garlic. But I like to sweat my onions and garlic before I start poaching with them. Add a tiny bit of olive oil and heat the onions and garlic until onions are just translucent.
Add your other poaching ingredients. At this point, I added low-sodium soy sauce and water. I then added my extra dry vermouth to the mixture along with my sprigs of fresh dill weed. I sprinkled the salmon fillet with a tiny bit of kosher salt. You can also substitute dried dill weed for the fresh sprigs.
Poaching takes an incredibly short period of time--see table below. I clocked this salmon fillet out at about 5-7 minutes total time to poach it to perfection.
Be sure and watch my YouTube video below for the entire recipe from start to finish. This is one of the quickest ways (and one of the most delicious) to cook a fish.
Timetable for Poaching Fish
Type of Cut
Large Whole Fish
Things You Can Poach Fish In
- Milk--this works well for white fish like halibut or dover sole
- Oil--use olive oil and extra virgin olive oil if you can--this will keep the fish really moist
- Butter--usually used for lobsters and scallops--often served along with the cooked fish
- Court bouillon--usually made of vegetables, water, vinegar, herbs and salt--a little like the video below
- Red wine court bouillon--darker, richer version of the above--usually served with the fish
- White wine court bouillon or vermouth or other bouillon--just about any kind of liquid can be used to poach fish--use your imagination and try different mediums to see how the final cooked product tastes