Of the three primary methods for cooking salmon, nothing comes close to poaching. That is, when it comes to tenderness and moistness. I fry, which is okay if I’m in a rush or would like to enjoy the crispy skin and tons of flavor, but that’s sort of hit or miss with ending up with a dry piece of salmon. Over the years, I’ve gotten much better and have somewhat perfected this method, but it’s still the messiest of the three.
Baking is delicious. I love baking salmon. Almost every time I prepare the fish this way, I have good luck and enjoy something wonderfully tender.
I have the least experience with poaching. The benefit of poaching is that you can infuse flavors into the salmon via the surrounding liquid and the moistness is almost always present at the end. I think the poaching method is underutilized in today’s kitchen, which is a shame. It produces a great tasting fish and the pan doesn’t require a lot of cleanup. It’s almost clean at the end of the process by itself.
The flavors that infuse into the fish during poaching are subtle. In the recipe I share below, all the flavor stems from a few key ingredients. First, we have the salmon. That’s a given. Next, we have some carrot, celery, onion, white wine, lemon juice, parsley and salt. Again, during the poach, there’s only a hint of flavor that is absorbed by the fish, but after you taste it, you’ll understand why you used these ingredients. The flavor is there and it’s definitely worth the effort.
The remainder of this recipe has to do with some nice dill sauce and a thinly sliced cucumber topping. I wasn’t sure how this dish was going to end up, but I was very pleasantly surprised after I plated both servings. I managed to slice the cucumber evenly and the dill sauce, while not overpowering, was delicious when combined with the other ingredients – especially the fish. The result was elegant.
For the Poaching
1 3-Pound Salmon Fillet
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
1 Large Sweet Onion, Sliced
1 Carrot, Peeled and Cut into 1-Inch Pieces
1 Celery Stalk, Cut into 1-Inch Pieces
4 Flat Leaf Parsley Sprigs
For the Dill Sauce
1/2 Cup Sour Cream
1/2 Cup Greek Yogurt
3 Teaspoons Lemon Juice
1 Tablespoon Dried Dill
Ground Black Pepper
For the Topping
1 Large Cucumber, Thinly Sliced
I’d like to thank Williams-Sonoma for their incredible cookbook titled Seafood. Laura and I pulled this recipe from it and again, just like on many other occasions, had excellent results.
Prep the Dill Sauce
Getting the dill sauce and the cucumber topping out of the way early makes things easier later on. With this in mind, go ahead and add the sour cream, yogurt, lemon juice, dill, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper to a medium sized bowl. Mix well.
When finished, store in the refrigerator for later use.
Prep the Cucumber
Get your knife skills ready for this one. After cleaning and trimming both ends from the cucumber, thinly slice it in its entirety. Each slice should be about 1/8 inch thick.
Again, store this bowl in the refrigerator for later use.
Poach the Salmon
You’ll need to use a deeper, straight walled frying pan for this part. Fill the pan with 2 inches of water. Add the white wine, lemon juice, onion, carrot, celery, parsley and 1 teaspoon of salt to it as well.
Warm the pan over medium-high heat until the liquid comes to a boil. Then, add the salmon, lower the heat and cover the pan. The goal here is to just barely simmer the liquid, so that’s the heat setting you’re aiming for.
Poach the salmon for 10 minutes and then turn off the heat.
Plate & Serve
At this point, you can carefully lift the salmon from the pan using a large spatula and place it on a platter. Surround the salmon with the dill sauce and place the cucumber slices on top of the fish in an overlapping pattern. Use a large spoon to serve on the individual plates.
The Final Dish
This was a fun and interesting dish to prepare. As I mentioned above, poached salmon is delicious, so I’d encourage you to give this recipe a try. It would be perfect for date night as it’s mild and a bit up-scale.