Poaching: cool option

Cooking 101


Cold fish may be a pejorative term when applied to a person, but to a pretty piece of summer salmon, simmered gently in aromatic liquid and chilled for serving, it's actually a compliment.

Poaching is an easy, low-fat treatment for any kind of fish in hot weather. Though this method does involve some cooking, the fish can be prepared hours ahead - perhaps at a cooler time of day - and served cold with a refreshing salad or vegetables. If you need your fish in a hurry, poaching works, too.

Poaching also invites experimentation. In The Big Book of Fish & Shellfish, author Fred Thompson includes a recipe inspired by star restaurateur Jean-Georges Vongerichten that poaches flounder, rockfish, snapper or black sea bass in buttermilk.

Greg Hare, a chef instructor at Baltimore International College, prefers to keep poaching broth simple by using stock, wine or water, with shallot, lemon and peppercorns adding subtle flavor. Though a large poached fillet can look impressive on a platter, Hare slices his fish into pieces before cooking, so that it's less likely to fall apart when removed from the broth.A creamy dill sauce is a classic accompaniment to poached salmon. Hare lightens the nutritional profile by substituting evaporated milk for heavy cream - a switch he says can work in many soups and sauces.


Poached Salmon With Dill Sauce

Serves 7 to 8


1 cup wine

1 1/2 quarts water

1 1/2 teaspoons peppercorns

zest of 1/2 lemon

1/2 small shallot, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons dried dill seed


one 2 1/2 -pound fillet of salmon


1/2 cup plain yogurt

6 ounces evaporated milk

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh dill

squirt of lemon juice (about 1/2 teaspoon)

salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients for broth in a large skillet or a 9-inch-by-13-inch pan. Heat over low to medium heat until the broth reaches 160 to 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Wisps of steam should appear on top of the broth and bubbles on the bottom of the pan.

Remove skin from salmon. Cut the fish on a bias into pieces about 5 inches across, for 5-ounce portions. Put the salmon slices in the water bath, making sure they're completely covered. Cook from 4 to 7 minutes, testing doneness by gently peeling apart layers of fish to see inside.

For the sauce: Combine yogurt and evaporated milk in a saucepan and stir over low heat until yogurt melts, taking care not to bring to a boil. Stir in dill, lemon juice and salt and pepper. Serve over salmon.

Note: Salmon can be poached up to a day ahead. Cover with slightly moist paper towels, wrap in plastic and refrigerate.

Courtesy of Greg Hare, chef instructor at Baltimore International College

Per serving (based on 8 servings): 260 calories, 34 grams protein, 11 grams fat, 2 grams saturated fat, 3 grams carbohydrate, 0 grams fiber, 92 milligrams cholesterol, 105 milligrams sodium


STEP 1: At one end of the salmon fillet, make a cut where the skin and flesh meet. Holding the end of the skin like a handle, draw the knife through the fillet to the other end to remove skin.

STEP 2: Heat cooking broth until it reaches 160 to 180 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.

STEP 3: Meanwhile, slice salmon on the diagonal, with about 5 inches between each cut.

STEP 4: Place salmon slices in broth, making sure they are completely covered. Cook 4 to7 minutes, gently peeling back a few layers of skin to check doneness.

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