Berlin EasyPeasy Entree Pescatarian Technique

Poaching 101 Fish & Leeks

Poached Halibut-10

Poaching fish, chicken or vegetables – take your pick, it is the technique that is key. You need a pot and a lid, or not even that, foil will do in a pinch. Poaching liquid usually consists of water or milk, wine or citrus, salt, herbs and or spices. Poaching means that the ingredient being “poached” is submerged in the liquid and is cooked at a simmer. It is sous vide without the bag. Ok, maybe not quite that, but it is a low-slow cook that keeps moisture and flavor in the food – where it belongs.

Fish is the classic.

While you can poach lots of foods, fish is a classic and traditional food to poach. Most fish can be poached, but one that has a little bit of fat, such as salmon or halibut will hold together better. This recipe was made with halibut. Season, submerge, simmer. It really is that easy. You do not need fancy equipment, although a fish poacher is a fun gadget to have because it comes with a little insert in which to lay the fish, but really it is not necessary. A large wide spatula or two can do the trick of removing the fish from the pan as well.

To poach or not to poach.

There are lots of cooking techniques that can be applied to different foods. Poaching is one that can be done with almost anything in the carnivore and vegetable families of ingredients. Maybe skip poaching peas, but let’s say larger vegetables. What’s great about poaching is that it can be done ahead of time and served cool, cold or at room temperature. Cook it a day ahead, cook it right before serving, either way, it will be moist and flavorful. Top with sauce or blend to make a salad and you are good to go.

Poaching liquids.

Variety is the key word here. Typical poaching liquid is comprised of water/milk, wine/citrus/vinegar, seasonings, salt and pepper. Water or milk is typically the base, and then the amount of acetic liquid depends on how much water is being used. With wine, we go on approximately 6-8 fl oz/170 -250ml to 32 fl oz/1L water. Gauge how much wine is used based on how robust the flavor is. For the herbs, this depends on whether you are using fresh or dried. Dried tend to be more potent, so use less. Another consideration with herbs is whether you want to place them directly into the water or if you want to place them in a piece of cheesecloth to keep them contained. Cheesecloth is a classic method when doing a Bouquet Garni.

Additional Poaching Recipes to try:

The most classic of poaching liquids is from a recipe found Food & Wine (
Court Bouillon
How to Make Poached Chicken Breasts from
Classic Poached Leeks with Sauce Gribiche from The Telegraph (

Fish & Leeks

We made our recipe as simple as possible to get you started on mastering this technique. When you don’t want to grill the fish or chicken this summer, or are going on a picnic and want to prepare food ahead of time (like the day before), this technique will be your go to method. This recipe is for fish and leeks, and the seasoning is in the sauce that is served on top of the fish. You can add a Bouquet Garni, if you so choose or some herbs, but we made it so easy that all you need to do is run the faucet and pop open a bottle of wine! Ok, and clean the grit out of the leeks.

Leek Cleaning 101
Poaching fish, chicken or vegetables – take your pick, it is the technique that is key. Click To Tweet

Poaching 101 Fish & Leeks

Serves: 4-6
Cooking Time: 30 minutes


  • 24 oz/750g halibut (cod or salmon can be substituted)
  • 32 fl oz/1L water
  • 6 fl oz/170ml rosé or white wine (a lighter wine is suggested)
  • 2 large leeks, cleaned, greens removed, and quarter lengthwise (see video above on how to clean leeks)
  • salt
  • 2 fl oz/60ml EVOO
  • 4 oz/125g mayonnaise
  • 1 bunch parsley, washed and leaves removed from stems
  • 1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste



Pour water and wine into a pan that is big enough the hold the fish flat, and to have the fish submerged under the poaching liquid.


Bring water and wine to a boil, add a pinch of salt.


Reduce heat to a simmer and submerge fish.


Place cleaned/cut leeks on top of fish.


Cover with a lid.


Cook for 12-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.


Fish is done when it is opaque.


Remove leeks and set aside (leeks may be served with fish, but may need to be cooked a bit longer until they are soft enough to eat).


Remove from water to a plate until ready to serve (fish may be cooked up to one day ahead of serving, cover with plastic wrap or tin foil and store in the fridge)




Mix EVOO, mayonnaise, and lemon juice in a small bowl.


Add salt and pepper. Blend.


Add parsley leaves (left whole they make for a very dramatic presentation.


Before serving the fish remove bones and skin and arrange on a serving platter or individual plates.


Top with sauce before serving (it also hides if the fish has broken apart anywhere).


Serve with a salad and a freshly sliced baguette.

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