By Elke Probkevitz
There are the common, well-known methods of cooking like roasting and sautéing. And then there are methods that are less known but not that difficult. It’s a wonder why these methods are not used more frequently. Poaching fish in olive oil is one of those methods. It is a foolproof technique that creates a delicate, silky texture. It will be the most delicious piece of fish you’ve ever had.
Poaching fish is a classic French technique of cooking the fish gently in liquid over low heat. The liquid can be many things, traditionally a light broth known as a court bouillon. Similarly, olive-oil poaching is submerging a piece of fish in a warm olive-oil bath and cooking it low and slow until perfectly cooked. The resulting fish is incredibly tender, silky, and pure. This is a low-maintenance technique that can be done in advance and is a dependable way to cook fish since it is submerged in olive oil and cannot dry out. The low-simmering olive oil does not make the fish greasy, but gives it a buttery texture with a pure fish flavor.
The fish. The best fish to olive-oil poach are firm in texture and rich in flavor, such as salmon, halibut, and tuna. They should be at least ¾ inch to 1 inch thick.
The oil. Extra-virgin olive oil is best for poaching because it is rich in flavor and the fish really absorbs this flavor during poaching. It is not necessary to use the highest-quality extra-virgin olive oil, as it will get expensive with the amount necessary for poaching, about 4–6 cups! Let the oil cool after poaching, strain it, and store in the fridge for up to three weeks to reuse for poaching more fish.
The pan. It is important for the fish to fit in the pan in a single layer and not overlap so the olive oil can surround it properly. A large straight-sided sauté pan or saucepan works well. A shallow casserole dish is also fine.
The method. Remove fish from the fridge, season it, and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour covered with plastic wrap. This is the most important step, since cold fish from the fridge would lower the temperature of the oil dramatically and throw off the cooking time. Place fish in the pan, cover with oil, and season with flaky sea salt and any fresh herbs or spices you like. The pan should immediately be transferred into a preheated 275°F oven for exactly 25 minutes. Alternatively, the fish can cook on the stovetop over low heat as well. v
Salmon With Orange Pomegranate Relish
3 salmon fillets, room temperature
extra-virgin olive oil, to cover
3 sprigs thyme
3 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
flaky sea salt
freshly ground pepper
Preheat oven to 275°F. Season salmon on both sides with salt and pepper. Place in a large sauté pan and cover with olive oil. Add thyme and garlic cloves, and season olive oil with more salt and pepper. Place in oven for 25 minutes until just cooked through. Gently lift fillets out of pan and transfer to individual plates, and drizzle some oil over each. (Can make fish in advance, cool, and refrigerate in the oil for 2 days.)
3 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses
1 Tbsp. honey
juice of 1 lemon
salt and pepper
1 red onion or Vidalia onion, sliced
2 oranges, segmented
2 Tbsp. pomegranate seeds
3 Tbsp. chopped parsley, optional
Combine oil, molasses, honey, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. In small bowl, combine onion, oranges, and pomegranate seeds. Pour dressing over and garnish with parsley. Serve alongside poached salmon.
Want to learn how to cook delicious gourmet meals right in your own kitchen? Take one-on-one cooking lessons or give a gift to an aspiring cook that you know. For more information, contact Take Home Chef personal chef services by calling 516-508-3663, writing to elke@TakeHomeChef.net, or visiting www.TakeHomeChef.net.