Poached Salmon with Tomato-Herb Butter Sauce and Cucumber

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

This recipe combines some classic complementary salmon flavors—herbs (particularly dill), white wine, cucumber, and sweet butter. The poached salmon is about as simple as you can get when cooking fish. (You can use the recipe for the poaching liquid to cook almost any fish or shellfish.) I don’t think there is anything better for a summer lunch than a beautifully poached whole salmon garnished with herbs and cucumber. The poaching liquid, the salad, and the butter can all be made in advance. Baby Red Bliss potatoes boiled in the poaching liquid and served sprinkled with fleur de sel and cracked pepper would complete the meal.



Cooking Methodpoaching


Total Timeunder 2 hours

OccasionBuffet, Casual Dinner Party

Recipe Coursemain course

Mealdinner, lunch

Taste and Texturebuttery, herby, savory, sweet, winey


  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, trimmed and diced
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • ½ fennel bulb, trimmed and diced
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 tablespoons coarse salt plus more to taste
  • ¼ cup light olive oil
  • ¼ cup minced shallots
  • 1 large carrot, cut crosswise into paper-thin disks
  • 3 large cucumbers, peeled, seeded, and cut into 3 inch × ¼-inch-thick sticks
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 6 7-ounce pieces salmon, skin and bones removed
  • Tomato-Herb Butter Sauce (recipe follows)
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 3 tablespoons Tomato Fondue
  • 2 tablespoons fines herbes
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. To make the poaching liquid, combine the water, wine, carrot, celery, onion, diced fennel, peppercorns, fennel seeds, thyme, and bay leaf in a large roasting pan on top of the stove over high heat.

  2. Stir in 3 tablespoons of the salt and bring to a boil.

  3. Lower the heat and simmer the liquid for 20 minutes. Remove it from the heat and allow the aromatics to infuse the poaching liquid for at least 1 hour.

  4. Heat the light olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and sauté for 3 minutes, or until translucent.

  5. Add the carrot disks and sauté for 1 minute. Stir in the cucumbers and sauté for an additional 3 minutes, or just until the cucumbers begin to wilt.

  6. Stir in the dill and season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove the pan from the heat and set it aside.

  7. Bring the poaching liquid to a boil over high heat.

  8. Place the salmon in the poaching liquid and lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer the fish for about 15 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the salmon reads 130 degrees.

  9. Using two spatulas, lift the salmon from the poaching liquid and place it on a large, oval serving platter. Spoon the cucumber sauté around the edge of the platter and spoon the Tomato-Herb Butter over the top of it.

  10. Serve family style.

  11. To make tomato-herb butter, combine the wine and shallots in a small nonreactive saucepan over medium heat.

  12. Bring the liquid to a simmer; then lower the heat and just barely simmer for about 7 minutes, or until the wine is reduced to 1 tablespoon.

  13. Slowly add the butter, a piece at a time, whisking until the butter is emulsified into the wine.

  14. Keep the saucepan over the heat only until the butter is completely melted.

  15. Whisking constantly, beat in the Tomato Fondue and fines herbes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

  16. Serve lukewarm. (The butter can be made early in the day. When you reheat it, whisk it constantly, in the top half of a double boiler over boiling water.)

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