Poached

Poached

By
Nathan Outlaw
Contains
6 recipes
Published by
Quadrille Publishing
ISBN
9781849493727
Photographer
David Loftus

Poached fish has never really been fashionable, perhaps because it was once associated with convalescent food and typically served as a bland and flavourless dish. Yet poaching can be one of the most flexible and adventurous of cooking techniques for fish and shellfish.

For a start, you can poach seafood in a variety of different liquids, from a classic court bouillon, fish or shellfish stock to salted butter, various oils, milk or cream. I have used a different poaching liquid for each of the dishes in this chapter, to show you the flexibility.

So why am I so keen on the poaching technique? Well, there are a number of reasons. Poaching is like cooking and marinating at the same time. Generally, the seafood will take on board the flavours of what you are poaching it in, to delicious effect. You just need to make sure that those flavours are not so intense that they overpower the natural taste of the seafood. Another advantage is that as poaching is a gentle method, it preserves the nutrients in the fish well.

Poaching is also a technique that gives you a little leeway when you are cooking. Fish can overcook and become dry quickly under a grill or in a hot, dry frying pan, but poaching is a little more forgiving because the seafood is immersed in liquid.

You can poach seafood either on the hob or in the oven. Poaching on the hob calls for a nice deep, large pan that can hold the liquid and the fish or shellfish comfortably.

The heat that you poach at is slightly under a simmer, i.e. 90–95°C. At this temperature, the liquor should not be bubbling but you should see steam rising from the surface.

For oven poaching, preheat the oven to about 160°C and put the fish into a suitable oven dish. Warm the poaching liquor in a pan until hot but not scalding, then pour it over the fish to two-thirds cover it. Put the lid on or cover the dish with greaseproof paper and foil. At this temperature, you will get perfectly cooked succulent fish and a lovely tasty stock to use as a base for a sauce or dressing.

More often than not I use either a salted butter or a highly flavoured court bouillon for poaching. Both of these bring something special to the fish.

Best seafood for poaching

Scallops, large bass, large brill, salmon, large cod, large hake, large ling, lobster, monkfish, mussels, oysters, large plaice, sea trout, large turbot.

Accompaniments and garnishes

Pickled mushroom dressing, cucumber chutney, pickled carrots, tomatoes poached in olive oil.

Recipes in this Chapter

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