Poached salmon is a simple and easy recipe. The fish is tender, moist, and infused with the delicate flavor of the aromatic poaching liquid. Ready in just 15 minutes, you can enjoy a healthy and delicious dinner any night of the week!
I’ve always thought of poached salmon as something elegant that’s served at fancy restaurants or dinner parties. That is until I realized just how easy it is to make it at home! This low and slow cooking method is perfect for fish as it makes sure it doesn’t dry out.
This recipe uses the deep poaching technique, which means that the salmon will be fully submerged in the liquid. The base for the poaching liquid is water to which you will add some vegetables, herbs, and seasoning. I also add some white wine for the flavor, and it also lowers the boiling temperature of the liquid to allow for a nice simmer.
If you like the poaching method of cooking, you might also like my recipe for poached shrimp!
Why You’ll Love This Poached Salmon Recipe
- Say goodbye to dry fish! This recipe ensures that your salmon turns out moist and tender every time.
- Healthy protein. Salmon is packed with protein and omega-3, also known as healthy ‘brain food’.
- Healthy cooking option. You won’t be using any oil to cook your fish, so poached salmon is a healthier alternative to pan-frying or grilling.
What is Poaching?
Poaching is a gentle cooking technique that uses moist heat to cook food at a low temperature. The food is submerged in some kind of liquid that also gives flavor as it cooks.
Usually, poaching works really well with more delicate proteins such as fish and eggs. It also works great with fruit such as pears.
What is Poaching Liquid?
The poaching liquid is what you’ll use to slowly cook your food. It’s often water or stock-based with other aromatics thrown in for subtle flavor. You’ll also often find liquid poaching recipes that call for wine. It adds great flavor to the liquid, but if you’d prefer to leave it out, that’s totally ok!
The Benefits of Poaching
Because poaching uses a low and slow moist-heat cooking method, it’s the perfect way to ensure your fish doesn’t dry out.
The flavoring of the poaching liquid also adds subtle flavor to your fish which is perfect for its delicate taste.
Ingredients In Recipe
Here’s what you need to make delicious poached salmon in minutes.
Complete list of ingredients and amounts can be found in the recipe card below.
- Salmon fillets: Look for center cut fillets with the skin on. Center cut works best because the pieces have more of a uniform thickness and cook at the same rate. If possible, you can look for a large half side of salmon and cut it yourself. This way you know that all of the slices are coming from the same fish and you can cut them to roughly the same size. Keeping the skin on helps the fish hold together while simmering in the poaching liquid.
- Liquid: Dry white wine and water. Sometimes you may find recipes that use milk for poaching. This isn’t one of them! I much prefer wine and water. I mean, sipping on a glass of milk while you cook just isn’t the same!
- Vegetables: Onion, carrot, and celery. This is a classic combination that is often used to add flavor to stocks and soups, also known as mirepoix.
- Herbs and seasonings: I use whole peppercorns, salt, sugar, bay leaf, and fresh dill. Dill goes exceptionally well with salmon.
- Lemon slices: Lemon pairs so nicely with all fish and also the flavor of the dill.
How To Make Perfect Poached Salmon
Follow this step-by-step guide to poach the perfect salmon. It’s actually pretty fun!
- Make poaching liquid. To a shallow saucepan, add celery, carrot, onion, lemon, peppercorns, bay leaf, water, and white wine. Add enough water to cover the vegetables by 2 inches. Put the pan on the stovetop. Keep an eye on the water level so your salmon doesn’t simmer dry.
- Heat the liquid. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a medium-low temperature and wait for the temperature of the water to come to 180°F/82°C and that’s when you will add the salmon fillets.
- Poach. Gently lower the salmon fillets in the liquid and poach for 10 minutes. Once ready, gently remove the fillets from the poaching liquid using a fish spatula and serve.
A candy thermometer attached to the side of the pot makes it easy to see the temperature of the water. Make sure that the liquid is not simmering and not bubbling up as that can cause the salmon to overcook.
These helpful tips will help to ensure your poached salmon turns out just the way you want it!
- Swap out the wine. If you don’t want to use wine in your poaching liquid, you can substitute it with 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar or add some fish stock.
- Check for pin bones. Your salmon fillets might have some pin bones in them, which are thin, needle-like bones and not very pleasant to eat. If you see any, the easiest way to remove them is with a pair of fine-tipped tweezers.
- Don’t overcook. Keep an eye on your poached salmon so it doesn’t overcook. You can check it with an instant-read thermometer and your salmon will be done when the internal temperature reaches 125-135°F (52-57°C).
- Use a fish spatula. These are great for handling delicate fish. They’re thinner and longer than your average spatula which is great for slipping under the fish without breaking it.
You can safely store cooked salmon in an airtight container in the fridge for 3–4 days.
Poached salmon is delicious when served cold, and when broken into pieces it makes a great salad topper for a healthy lunch or light dinner.
You can also reheat it. You might be worried about drying the salmon out, but if you warm it slowly at a low temperature, you shouldn’t have any problems! Place the salmon on a rimmed baking sheet and gently heat in a 275°F/135°C oven for about 15 minutes.
What To Serve With
There are so many options to choose from when thinking of side dishes to serve along with your poached salmon. Here are some of my favorites:
- Vegetables – roasted broccolini, green beans.
- Salad – green salad, kale salad.
- Rice – cilantro lime rice, mushroom rice.
- Pasta – pasta with peas, creamy lemon pasta.
- You can also use poached salmon in place of canned tuna fish in recipes like Niçoise Salad and Tuna Pasta Salad.
The fish is done when it is no longer opaque, and it flakes easily with a fork or knife. The internal temperature of the salmon should be 125-135°F (52-57°C).
Sometimes when salmon is cooked (many times it’s overcooked), you’ll notice a white substance forming on the outside of the fillet. Although it doesn’t look very appealing, it’s totally fine to eat!
The white substance is a type of protein called albumin that is found in salmon and becomes semi-solid when it’s cooked. The longer you cook salmon, the more pronounced the albumin will become.
There are a few types of salmon, and I suggest using one of the following for poaching – wild sockeye, Atlantic salmon, or pink salmon.
Picking out what fish is best for your family seems like a full-time job these days. If you’re looking for budget-friendly salmon, Atlantic (farmed) salmon is most commonly found at your local grocery store. If you’re looking for a wild-caught, Alaskan salmon is the way to go.
Yes, you can use frozen salmon to make your poached salmon, although I recommend that you let it thaw in the fridge first before poaching.
Now that you’ve become an expert at preparing delicious poached salmon, save and share this recipe with others so that they can have fun learning this new technique! Let me know in the comments how yours turned out!
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest!
Perfect Poached Salmon
- 4 x 6-ounce (4 170g) salmon fillets center cut, skin on
For the poaching liquid:
- 1 rib (1 rib) celery chopped into 4 pieces
- 1 (1) carrot chopped into 4 pieces
- ½ medium (½ medium) yellow onion halved into 2 pieces
- ½ (½) lemon sliced
- 1 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) whole peppercorns
- 1 (1) bay leaf
- ½ cup (120 ml) dry white wine
- 4 cups (4 cups) water you might need more
- 1 tablespoon (1 tablespoon) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon (1 teaspoon) salt
- Fresh dill sprigs
- Lemon wedges for serving
- To a shallow saucepan, add celery, carrot, onion, lemon, peppercorns, bay leaf, water, and white wine. Add enough water to cover the vegetables by 2 inches. Put the pan on the stovetop. Keep an eye on the water level so your salmon doesn’t simmer dry.
- Bring to a boil, then reduce to a medium-low temperature and wait for the temperature of the water to come to 180°F/82°C and that’s when you will add the salmon fillets.
- Gently lower the salmon fillets in the liquid and poach for 10 minutes. Once ready, gently remove the fillets from the poaching liquid using a fish spatula and serve.
- Look for center cut salmon fillets with the skin on. Center cut works best because the pieces have more of a uniform thickness and cook at the same rate. If possible, you can look for a large half side of salmon and cut it yourself. This way you know that all of the slices are coming from the same fish and you can cut them to roughly the same size. Keeping the skin on helps the fish hold together while simmering in the poaching liquid.
- Keep an eye on your poached salmon so it doesn’t overcook. You can check it with an instant-read thermometer and your salmon will be done when the internal temperature reaches 125-135°F (52-57°C).
This website provides approximate nutrition information for convenience and as a courtesy only. Nutrition data is gathered primarily from the USDA Food Composition Database, whenever available, or otherwise other online calculators.
© Little Sunny Kitchen
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