Poached trout

Poached trout

Andrew Montgomery

This is a classy dish. I like to serve it while it’s still warm, but not hot, as part of a fine lunch spread. It’s great with crusty bread and some green leaves, and a tarragon or chive mayonnaise. It’s worth spending a little time preparing the ingredients for your court-bouillon. Not only will it impart a wonderful flavour to the fish as it cooks, but you’ll be left with the most delicious fish stock that you can use for soups, sauces, risottos, or anything else that calls for good fish stock. Freeze it in batches and use as required.


Quantity Ingredient
2 large carrots, finely sliced
2 celery sticks, finely sliced
1 large onion, finely sliced
1 leek, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 small fennel bulb, sliced
2-3 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
2 glasses white wine
3-4 thyme sprigs
4 bay leaves
few parsley stalks
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
1 whole trout, gutted and cleaned


  1. You can make the court-bouillon immediately before poaching, or a day or two in advance (keep it stored in an airtight container in the fridge). Place all the ingredients except the fish into a large pan and cover with about 2 litres water. Place the pan over a high heat and bring the contents up to a gentle simmer. Cook, simmering, for 25–30 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the stock to cool with all the vegetables and herbs in it.
  2. Strain the stock through a sieve into a fish kettle. (Retain the vegetables as a lovely soup base – pop them in a bag and freeze them until you need them.) At this point you could add a few more aromatics, such as bay, if you like, but it’s optional. Place the fish kettle over a medium heat and bring it up to a simmer. Place the fish on the trivet (the kettle insert) and lower it very gently into the poaching liquid. Turn down the heat to low and cook the fish for 15–20 minutes, or until the fish is just cooked through. I sometimes test this by pulling gently at the dorsal fin. If it comes away easily, the fish is cooked.
  3. Lift the trivet from the kettle and remove the fish to a large serving platter, then allow it to cool a little. You can bring the fish to the table whole, or you can cut it up and serve it in portions. Serve with buttered brown bread, good mayonnaise, and a watercress salad.
River Cottage
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