How to Poach Fish: A Guide - Dish on Fish
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How to Poach Fish: A Guide

Poaching fish is a simple way to create tender, melt-in-your-mouth seafood that allows the delicate fish flavor we all love to really shine. “How do you poach fish?” is a question we get all the time. So, here are some tips for a fail-proof way to poach fish.

Poaching is a simple technique to cook fish, keeping it moist, flavorful and light.

How to Poach Fish

  1. Pat your fish dry. Be sure to properly pat your fish fillets dry before adding to your saucepan. Place fish in a large pot and add enough poaching liquid to the pan to cover the fish.
  2. Don’t boil. Perfectly poached fish requires gentle cooking over low heat. Don’t let your pot come to a boil, or even a simmer (a few bubbles are fine).
  3. Monitor the liquid temperature. It’s important for the temperature of the liquid to remain at 140 degrees Fahrenheit (the internal temperature of a perfectly cooked fish). If the temperature never rises above 140 degrees, then the fish will never overcook. It’s helpful to have an instant read thermometer handy.
  4. Cook the fish. The average cooking time for fish is 10 minutes, however that will depend on the size of the fillet. Cook until the center is opaque and flakes easily.
  5. Remove and enjoy. When the fish is done, remove it from the liquid. It’ll be ready to go straight from the pan to your plate. Serve the poached fish hot with a sauce of your choice. You can also chill it and serve it later.

Poached fish works well with any variety of whitefish, regardless of whether you bought it fresh or frozen. That’s right. If you forgot to take the fish out of the freezer, this is the perfect busy weeknight dinner option.

Poaching is a versatile cooking method and can be used on any fish. However, fish steaks or whole fish may crumble less than fish fillets. Or, you could try wrapping a fish fillet in a cheesecloth while poaching.

These are some of our favorite types of fish to poach:

  • Artic char
  • Mahi mahi
  • Salmon
  • Barramudi
  • Trout
  • Sole
  • Tuna
  • Halibut
  • Striped bass

One of the best aspects of poaching fish is that the fish remains super-moist and flavorful, but without the calories from added fats or frying. And while the standard formula for poaching is liquid, herbs, acid plus a mix of aromatic veggies (think onions, celery and carrots), you can be as creative as you like when choosing which ingredients to use: white wine or broth for liquid, vinegar or citrus juice for acid and whatever herbs and aromatics you’d like. Just use enough liquid to cover the fish.

Once you’ve finished poaching, top your fish with a tasty sauce. Think of the sauce as an opportunity to add lots of flavors and nutrients without excess fat, sodium and calories.

Blend some of these sauces to add a flavorful and nutrient-packed punch to your fish!

  • Herb sauce – mix of herbs (parsley, marjoram, oregano) + garlic + white wine + red wine vinegar
  • Tomato basil sauce – chicken stock + white wine + cherry tomatoes + garlic + fresh basil
  • Romesco sauce – jarred bell peppers + tomato + garlic + nuts (almonds, hazelnuts) + olive oil + paprika
  • Mediterranean sauce – olive oil + red bell pepper + garlic + tomato + capers + kalamata olives + lemon juice
  • Creamy lemon dill sauce – Greek yogurt + lemon juice + dill + olive oil + garlic + white wine

Looking for some inspo? Try this delicious poached fish recipe on our blog.

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