If you like the simple flavors of fresh fish, poaching is an easy way to emphasize the taste of good fish. Poaching fish is more of a technique than a specific recipes with the seasonings of the poaching liquid changing with what is on hand and the fish changing depending on what's fresh at the fishmonger. Quickly, but gently, cooking the fish in a flavorful liquid is the key to preserving the fish's natural flavor resulting in a lightly seasoned, healthy meal that's the perfect excuse to open a nice bottle of white wine.
When talking about fish, the term poaching is used most often for fish cooked in a simmering liquid where the liquid is intended to be discarded. Braising or stewing is often used when the liquid is to be served with the fish.
The water used when poaching fish should be "high quality". If you don't drink your tap water, then don't use it for this recipe. Use water that you would be willing to drink (and, hopefully, prefer the taste of) for this recipe because those off flavors will present themselves in the final dish if you use funny tasting water. Also, we're not going to boil the fish - we're going to cook it in near boiling temperature water. Boiling will cause unnecessary violent currents through the cooking liquid which will end up tearing apart the fish into little pieces instead of gently cooking them through. The poaching liquid can be used repeatedly for multiple batches of fish or other foods you may want to poach in a flavorful liquid - just bring it back to a boil between uses. (Use the poaching liquid all in one session and then discard... please don't keep a pot of poaching liquid sitting on your stove waiting for the next poached fish meal.)
For this recipe, prepare the poaching liquid by filling a saute pan with enough water to measure a depth of about one inch (2.5 cm). Throw in a couple cloves of garlic, about 30 to 40 whole peppercorns, 4 sprigs of parsley, 1/2 cup dry white wine, and a bay leaf. Covering the saucepan, allow the mixture to come to a full boil and turn the heat down to low. We want to let the flavors of the spices infuse into the liquid, so let it sit on low for about twenty minutes. Feel free to use this time to prepare any side dishes you may want, like a rice pilaf. [IMG]
I find that tilapia, red snapper, and bass seem to work well when poached. But it greatly depends on the individual: the flavors of catfish may be pleasant to many, but I can't stand it when poached. Each fish has it's own flavors, so I encourage trying them out (in a restaurant or when they go on sale) and figuring out what flavors agree with your palate. Poaching is a great way to prepare fish for tasting, because the flavor of the fish is not overwhelmed by sauces or marinades.
Bring the poaching liquid back up to a full rolling boil, then turn the heat back to the lowest setting. When the boil settles down, place the fillets into the liquid with a thin, flat, slotted spatula and cover for five minutes. (Filets thicker than 1 cm may need an additional minute or two.)
Remove the filets from the liquid and serve with some kosher salt sprinkled on top, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a few drained capers, and a couple slices of lemon on the side. [IMG]
I opened up your column from my My Yahoo page, which is in Firefox. For curiosity, I pasted the link into IE to see what the comments were about. The text was actually bigger, but I could change size with my keyboard, so I don't know if it came in the standard size or not. What I found strange, however, was that the subject body was way down below the headings and all the links on the right. It looked like an empty column at first until I scrolled down. I even changed subjects, and they were all the same.
Joined: 10 May 2005 Posts: 1618 Location: Austin, TX (USA)
Posted: Fri Oct 14, 2005 10:37 am Post subject:
re: IE bugs and CfE
Due to a bug in how IE handles CSS, if the default font size in IE is set larger than Medium (View-Text Size-Medium), then the center page expands past the absolute size set in the stylesheet. This results in the main section being pushed down below the sidebar.
I'll try to fix this in the near future. Unfortunately, I've been quite busy and barely able to write up articles. When I do get some free time I'll start prototyping a new website design.
For the adventurous, take some salmon and a fairly dense white fish like bass, cut them into thin strips, and weave them together like a kid's craft project. Poaching keeps the contrast and tidies up up the weave as the flesh swells slightly. It's a little time-intensive, but gorgeous.
Ask for the thinnest, most uniform fillets from your fishmonger.
Michael, your site is amazing. I discovered it a few days ago thanks to a tip from ReadyMade magazine and am hooked. Thanks for the simple and practical recipes and thoughts. And the flowchart summaries - lovely and logical. Keep up the great work - I look forward to whatever new material you have in store!
I tried poaching a salmon fillet, it turned out great! Also tried it with another kind, not sure what, and it came out rather watery. The fillets were frozen for awhile and seemed quite watery before cooking too so they were probably not the best for poaching. Normally my mom bakes fish fillets, my dad usually finds it overcooked and dry when she does, I think poaching is the answer to that problem. Of course the watery fish were what I made when I was visiting them and the great salmon was made at home. Next time I visit them I think I'll buy some fresh fillets and make sure they are good quality and try it again .