Poached fish salad is a tuna alternative made with the daily catch, fresh from the garden peas and tomatoes.
Where we live in Maine is on the ocean. As a result, we can regularly enjoy the fresh catch of the day, poached fish is a great way to change up your summer cooking repertoire. Once upon a time, fish was in limited capacity for those who were land-locked. Not anymore. Fresh fish is transported so quickly and in such optimum conditions, that the fish in the mid-western supermarket might be on your table faster than on ours. So fresh may be a relative term. Fresh can also mean fresh frozen. If a fishing boat is equipped with a system to freeze the fish at sea, that may be even fresher than the “fresh” fish in the market. Day boats bring the fish in to the docks where it is transported to a store or distributor or sold directly off the boat. We buy most of our fish from a fishing cooperative or a small store where the fishermen bring the catch directly.
Hotter days, lighter fare.
Maine used to be where we escaped to in the summer to get away from the summer heat of NYC. No more. This is the fourth or fifth summer where I have uttered that if there is one more day of humidity I shall buy an air conditioner. Years ago people were aghast at this thought, and now little, white rumbling boxes hang out quite a few windows along the road. Heavy food is typical of New England meals, summer or winter. The CSA, gardens and such allow for filling the plate with veggies, but when it comes to protein, we needed to find. way to lighten the load.
Fish salad means canned tuna any mayonnaise. It does not have to be this way.
I was about to grill the fish. As one can imagine, I have a lot of kitchen equipment. From single use items such as a strawberry huller to the multi-purpose pots. In the back of an upper cabinet is my fish poacher (will do a review next week). It gets used (duh) for poaching fish. Needless to say, it does not get used often enough. After this recipe, I am going to change that. A fish poacher allows the fish to lay flat and be simmered in seasoned water. Poaching means that it is cooked gently, not boiled. The water is called a court bouillon. For this recipe I used, water, white wine, herbs de Provence, salt and a bit of lemon juice.
Do I need a fish poacher to make poached fish, you are asking yourself.
No, there are several ways to do this sans fish poacher. Fish can be poached in the oven with the fish on a rack fitted into a baking dish or just placed in a pan. As long as the fish is covered with the liquid and the water is simmering, you will get the intended effect. The alternative is a pot that is big enough to hold the fish flat (although for a salad, the fish could be cut in two and placed in a smaller pot). The key here is that the fish poaches best when set on a rack inside of the pot. I have used a pasta pot as an option. Again, low heat, simmering water and covering the fish in the liquid is what is of greatest importance in making poached fish.
Why poach the fish rather than steam it?
Poaching fish infuses it with flavor. Steaming cooks the fish, but does not flavor it in the same way that poaching does. By submerging the fish in the flavored liquid, it encompasses the piece of fish and surrounds it with the flavor. Water for steaming may be seasoned, but it does not infiltrate the flesh of the fish in the same way.
Hot or cold?
It may be served either way. Hot, is must be taken to the table immediately. Cold, it is perfect for a dish that will be eaten later in the day. Plan and cook accordingly. Take it on a picnic and add a lentil salad, a zucchini summer salad and a green salad.
Techniques and more recipes:
RECOMMENDATION: oven poaching works well, but stovetop is preferred.
Poached Fish SaladPrint Recipe
- 6 oz/170g per person fish fillet
- enough water to cover the fish 2"/5cm
- 1 tbsp dried herbs (herbs de Provence or thyme or oregano)
- 2oz/60ml white wine
- 2 tbsp shallots, finely chopped
- 1/2 teasp fresh lemon juice or 1/4 tsp lemon juice concentrate
- salt and pepper, to taste
- For fish salad:
- Balsamic Vinegar (white if possible)
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- peas, fresh (no need to cook) or frozen (cooked and cooled)
- tomatoes, chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
Review the videos above first and foremost.
Oven poaching - fish goes into pan first. This method, if the fish rests on the bottom of the dish does not allow for liquid underneath. It may be used, but stovetop is much better.
Add water to the pot.
Add all ingredients other than the fish.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer.
Gently slip the fish into the liquid to rest on the rack, if using one.
Cook 8-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the fillet.
Remove fish from rack and place on serving dish.
Serve immediately or allow to cool for later.
Dab liquid that runs out on the dish with a paper towel.
Prepare the vinaigrette.
Place EVOO, balsamic vinegar and mustard in a bowl, whisk together.
In a larger bowl, break fish into small pieces with a fork.
Add peas and tomatoes.
Add dressing and toss again.
Serve on rolls, on a bed of salad greens, or alone!
This can be made a day ahead and stored in the fridge. It is perfect too hot to eat hot food or travels well for a picnic. Which is what we did.