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How to Poach Fish

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Poaching is an easy way to cook fish quickly. It’s a healthy alternative to frying, instead using a simmering liquid to cook the fish. Poaching usually has these four components:

  1. Liquid

  2. Herbs

  3. An acid (lime, lemon, and oranges)

  4. A mixture of onions, celery and carrots


Traditionally, fish was poached in a court-bouillon, a clear broth made from simmering herbs and vegetables, together with something acidic like vinegar, lemon juice, or white wine.

If that sounds a bit tricky to you, there are many other ways of poaching that vary depending on what’s in your kitchen. The simplest method is just to use water as your liquid and add a little lemon juice, garlic, onions, herbs and spices or maybe some dry white wine, vinegar, broth and milk.

Types of Fish


These are some good fish to poach:

  • Mahi mahi

  • Barramundi

  • Arctic char

  • Dover sole

  • Halibut

  • Salmon

  • Tuna

  • Sturgeon

  • Turbot

  • Striped bass


Try whatever you like, but these varieties are among the most flavorful. Fish can be fresh or frozen. Fish steaks and whole fish are easier to poach than fillets, as they don’t crumble quickly. Sometimes even whole fish (usually the more delicate varieties) will curl or fall apart after poaching, but you can wrap your fish in layers of cheese cloth before poaching to avoid that.

Getting Started


Thoroughly rinse the fish and pat dry with paper towels. Place fish in a large saucepan and add enough poaching liquid to the pan to cover the fish. You can also use a fish poacher fitted with a rack for holding fish instead of a saucepan or soup pot.

Bring your poaching liquid to a simmer over medium heat, and cook the fish for 10 minutes or until the center of the fish seems opaque and it flakes easily when prodded with a fork. Do not bring the liquid to a rolling boil - keep it at a simmer.

When the fish is done, remove it from the liquid with a slotted spatula. Serve poached fish hot, right out of the poaching liquid, with the sauce of your choice. You can also chill it and serve it later.

Poached Fish Recipes

Once you get the hang of it, poaching is easy without a recipe. But if you're more comfortable with a recipe the first time or two, try one of these:

Poaching fish may require a couple tries to get the timing right, but you’ll be glad you mastered it when you bite into that flavorful, perfectly moist fish.

Enjoy!

Have you ever eaten poached fish? What did you think of it?

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