Poaching is a moist heat cooking method that cooks fish at a relatively low temperature in a flavorful liquid. Do not mistake poaching for boiling; poaching is done a low temperatures while boiling is done at high temperatures where bubbles visibly break the surface of the liquid.

Fish Poacher Pan. Image courtesy culinaryshopper.com.

Fish Poacher Pan. Image courtesy culinaryshopper.com.

This is a great method for cooking low fat fish because it prevents the fish from drying out. But, poaching is equally suitable for the fatter species – tuna and salmon are two species that do well using the poaching method.

Poached fish is often used in recipes calling for cooked, flaked, and chilled fish, like in salads and sandwiches.

For poaching, you want a flavorful liquid, but not so strong as to over power the fish itself. Read a refresher on what court bouillons and fumets are, and try some different old fashioned court bouillon recipes, too.

Below is a basic method for poaching fish.

How to Poach Fish

  1. Prepare your court bouillon, fumet, or whatever poaching liquid you are using.
  2. Use a pan large enough to hold the fish, and to cover the fish at least by an inch or two. A fish poaching pan is great because it has a perforated bottom that can be lifted out, making removing the fillet easy.
  3. Bring the poaching liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat until you barely see bubbles forming. The perfect temperature for poaching is 180 degrees F.
  4. Gently lower the fish into the liquid, and poach until the fish is cooked through. Time will depend on the thickness of the fish.
  5. Remove the fish, and use immediately or chill properly and use in recipes.
Renee Shelton enjoys writing about fish and testing recipes, and serves as webmaster for Dana Point Fish Company. When she’s not handling seafood or out fishing, she can be found in the bakeshop talking about pastry. Visit her at pastrysampler.com, or send her a message using the contact form above.