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Feb 15, 2011 07:02 AM

Olive Oil Poached Fish

Hello - can anyone provide some tips on poaching fish (halibut) in olive oil? I've seen recipes from 5 minutes on the stove to 30 minutes in the oven. I think the oven method might be preferable, but am unsure about time/temperature. Thanks!

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  1. I've always wanted to try this recipe from David Pasternak.

    1. Hi. Never followed a recipe, though the one linked above looks great... For halibut it just depends on how thick the cut is, and (in my case) whether or not the fish was frozen. Obviously, if thicker/frozen = longer cooking time. But if fresh, it shouldn't take more than a few minutes on top of the stove. I've never tried the oven.

      Usually I have some fresh herbs (thyme, etc) to toss in the oil. Cook at a near boil, and if the oil doesn't completely submerge the fish I will occasionally spoon the oil over the top to keep it moist and cooking. If it's a thick piece, I usually flip it once; if it's thin, maybe not at all. You can tell how it's coming along by just testing it with the point of a knife.

      Sorry, exact cooking times never seem to work for me as it always depends on the type of fish, temperature (of fish and oil), thickness, and--face it--an individual's preference for doneness. Hope some of this helps.

      1. Temperature:
        Fish should be at or near room temperature.
        The oil should be heated to the point where, although it is hot, it is yet cool enough so that the fish doesn't sizzle when it enters the oil. You can maintain the temperature using a VERY low flame.
        You'll know when the fish is done when, pricked with a fork, it tends to flake. Just don't leave it in the poaching oil so long that it falls apart.
        Shouldn't take longer than 10 - 15 minutes.
        I prefer to poach the fish (skin on) and crisp it under a broiler just before serving.

        1. Here's a link to an LA Times Food Section story on conserving tuna in olive oil. In the left margin there's a link to the recipe.

          I've used this recipe/method with tuna and salmon. Don't know why it wouldn't adapt equally well to halibut.

          They don't say so, but the oil, once the fish is used up, is also very flavorful. I've used it in salad dressing rather than tossing it. I mean what's the dif between fish-scented oiive oil and mashing anchovies into the dressing for a ceasar salad?

          1. Fine Cooking did a great article on this several months ago, and it's become my go-to method: they want you to preheat your oven to 225, heat your EVO on the stove top, slip your ROOM TEMPERATURE fish into the oil (it's not too hot, around 170) and then immediately move the pot into the 2250 oven. I think they want 20-25 minutes, I can't recall. I'm sure you can look it up online. Perfect fish every time, no fish smell in your kitchen, and I strain, refridge & re-use the oil 3-5 times (for fish poaching only).

            2 Replies
            1. re: mommasue

              How long do you keep your oil, mommasue?

              1. re: artemis

                @Artemis, sorry I missed your question...just FYI, I poached salmon last night using strained oil previously used & kept in the fridge--I shouldn't even admit this--several months ago! Before I used it, I brought it up to room temperature and gave it a sniff--no odor to speak of, so I used it. I use a coffee filter set into a canning funnel to strain the oil into a glass canning jar; I leave the dregs in the pan & toss. I find I can use this several times--3 anyway--I toss when it really smells of fish. Fine Cooking says 3 weeks, but I'm telling you, I've certainly kept mine the refrigerator of course.