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Apr 13, 2009 02:42 PM

Poaching Salmon

I volunteered to bring poached salmon to a potluck buffet before realizing I've never made it before. Is there a foolproof way to do this? I saw some reference to an Alton Brown show and using an electric skillet, which I have, but I did not see instructions on temperature/timing. Poached salmon usually tastes overcooked to me and I want to avoid that.

I am going to buy a large piece of fish so I'd have to do it in pieces in the electric skillet, or I'd try to fit it in my largest roasting pan if I poach it on the stove top. I want to make enough to feed 10- 15 or so.

Also, suggestions on a good sauce to make on the side are appreciated. I was thinking a yogurt/cucumber/garlic sauce, but maybe a mustard sauce is tastier?


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  1. The key, in my opinion, to good poached fish is the poaching liquid.

    For salmon (or any fish, really), I like to start with "high quality" water -- i.e., not tap water.

    Prepare the poaching liquid by filing a pan with enough water to a depth of about one inch. Add some cloves of garlic, whole peppercorns, parsely, dry white wine, and a couple of bay leaves.

    Cover the pan, allow the liquid to come to a full boil, and then simmer for about 30 minutes.

    Then reduce your stove top setting to its lowest temp, so that the liquid is barely simmering, and place the fish into the liquid.

    Cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove.

    Because I really want the flavors of the poaching liquid to stand out and blend with the flavor of the salmon, I don't like overdress the fish. Just sprinkle some kosher salt and a light drizzle of olive oil, or sesame oil, usually does the trick.

    1. I'd do it whole... much nicer presentation.

      Use your roaster and make a cover out of aluminum foil.

      As for the poaching liquid... I like Asian flavors so I use garlic, ginger, scallions and some soy sauce. But you could use dill, garlic, white wine... or tarragon.

      As for sauce on the side... why not make a trio and let your diners decide? Mustard is nice, as is a dill sour cream... or a lemon aioli.

      Poaching salmon is easy! I often pop a piece in after dinner and chill it for a nice cold poached salmon lunch the next day.

      1. I like to do whole and then serve and you can cut into portions. I make a generic broth, white wine, peppercorns, dill, some onion, lemon, bay, garlic and some. Works best for me. Many times use veggie stock vs water too. Put fish in a deep frying pan on top of the the liquid and other ingredients. Add the fish and bring to a medium boil, reduce and cook 5 minutes and remove from heat. Let set 5-10 minutes until the fish has continued cooking and the , bring to a boil, reduce and cook just 10 or so minutes until almost done and remove until tender and cooked through. Remove and serve room temp or chilled.

        I like to serve with lemon dill sauce, yogurt, cucumber sauce, spicy mustard sauce as josephsm mentioned. 3 of my favorites. It gives people a choice and great flavors. A papaya or mango chutney is great too but not everyone likes that. I also make a spicy apricot horshradish sauce. I try to make sauces I know everyone will be comfortable with

          1. I've always done my salmon in a court bouillion:

            2 qt Water
            1/2 c Carrots, chopped
            1/2 c Celery, chopped
            1 sm Onion -- chopped
            1/4 c Parsley, chopped
            1 Bay leaf
            1 tb Fresh thyme, chopped
            1 tb Fresh basil, chopped
            2 Garlic cloves
            10 Black peppercorns
            1 t Salt
            1/4 c White wine vinegar
            1/4 c White wine

            In a large saucepan place all of the ingredients.
            Bring the liquid to a boil and then simmer it for 30
            minutes. Let it cool.

            2 Replies
            1. re: bigfellow

              I'll second the court bouillon advice, though I always strain the liquid (for convenience,) and add my acids at the end, just before the fish goes in.

              1. re: muscles_marinara

                I also do a court bouillion but wrap the whole fish in cheesecloth before placing it in the broth. If your fish has the skin on, it helps the removal effort afterwards. If the skin is off, it helps keep the fish in one piece. For a sauce - mustard dill, dill horseradish and sour cream or garlic cucumber and yogurt. This is one of my favorite meals for a crowd. It is easy and everything is done in advance.