Poaching is a simple but underutilized, moist heat cooking technique. I love salmon and chicken breasts cooked this way. Poached foods are cooked in a court-bouillon, a briefly boiled, lightly flavored liquid. In this recipe I use white wine, but you could substitute the wine with another acid such as vinegar or lemon juice.
When you are ready to cook the salmon in the finished court-bouillon, bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to a low simmer. Add the salmon to the liquid and cover the pan. The addition of the salmon will reduce the heat of the poaching liquid even more. You want this. Ideally poaching is done in liquid between 160-180 degrees. Cooking at this temperature permits the proteins in the salmon, or other food being poached, to cook very slowly, without tightening and squeezing out the moisture in the salmon as it cooks. Think of a lovely, soft custard. You are creating a similar result with poached salmon.
Poached Salmon with Salsa Verde
- 2 pounds whole salmon fillet, wild or sustainably farmed preferred, skin on, trimmed and boned, cut into 6 equal pieces by weight
- Salsa Verde
Ingredients for court-bouillon (for cooking the salmon):
- 1 small carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1 small onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
- ½ celery rib, chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, optional
- 6-8 black peppercorns
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 cups white wine
- 2 ½ cups water
Combine all the court-bouillon ingredients in a non-reactive saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool and strain.
Place the court bouillon in a fish poacher or non-reactive pan wide and deep enough to hold the salmon and liquid. Bring the court bouillon to a boil. Reduce to a simmer. Add the salmon, skin side down. Cover and poach until it is just done, approximately 3 to 4 minutes.
Drain the cooked salmon fillets on a clean dishtowel. Remove the skin if there is one on the fillets.
Place the salmon fillets on individual serving plates or a platter. Spoon salsa verde over top and serve.