Poached Salmon Fillets with Butter Sauce
Poaching small fish or fish fillets is a quick technique used in French retardates. Although classically such a dish would be made by poaching the fish in a court bouillon (light vegetable stock), I find the use of court bouillon advantageous only when poaching fish to be served cold. So I just poach fish fillets (salmon as here, or another thick fish such as sea bass or striped bass) in water, sometimes adding an acid such as vinegar, wine, or lemon juice if the fish is not extremely fresh.
The traditional sauce for poached fish is Hollandaise but I prefer to serve it with the sauce beurre blanc. You should have everything you want to serve ready before starting to poach the fish since it cooks in just a few minutes.
* If the fish is not absolutely fresh, add one of these three acidic ingredients to rejuvenate the fish’s flavor. I most often use vinegar.
Total Timeunder 30 minutes
OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Cooking for a date, Formal Dinner Party
Recipe Coursemain course
Dietary Considerationmain course
Taste and Texturebuttery, creamy, rich, sharp, tangy
- 3 pounds salmon fillet, skinned, but into individual serving pieces, and rinsed well in cold water
- 1/3 cup distilled vinegar, juice of 1 lemon, or 1 cup dry white wine (optional*)
- Sauce Beurre Blanc
Place enough water in a large nonaluminum skillet or Dutch oven to cover the fillets by an inch or more and bring to a boil. If the fish is not extremely fresh; add the vinegar, lemon juice, or white wine.
Place the fish into the boiling water and adjust the heat so that the water barely simmers; do not let it boil.
Cooking time is approximately 10 minutes per inch of thickness of the fish. When done, the fish will he firm yet springy to the touch.
Remove the fish from the water using a skimmer or slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
To serve: Place the fish on warm plates or a platter and cover with sauce beurre blanc.
1988 Richard Grausman