Poached salmon with watercress sauce

Poaching requires little coaching

Originally appeared in the April 28, 2011 edition of the Southside Times.

With spring here, it’s refreshing to pair delicate cooking techniques with food that’s equally delicate.  If you’ve yet to employ poaching as a method for preserving gentle flavors and tender textures, then read on, my friend.  Article continues here:There are two types of poaching:  submersion and shallow.  For this recipe, we’ll be using the latter.  Similar to steaming, shallow poaching is a moist-heat method in which food is placed partially in a liquid—called “cuisson” (kwee-sohn)—which has been infused with various aromatics; the seasoned liquid should come up about halfway up the sides of your item.  Ideally, the surface of a poaching liquid should show minimal movement, with no bubbles.  Aim for a steady temp between 160-180° F.

Another delicate element in this recipe is the watercress.  An aquatic plant, watercress (as hinted by the name) requires an abundance of fresh, cool water to grow.  The dark-green, oval-shaped leaflets have a unique, spicy profile.  In fact, the Latin word nasturtium is derived from nasus tortus:  “twisted nose,” due to its arugula-like pepperiness.

This is an ideal dish to ease into the season.  Enough coaching, let’s get cooking.

Poached salmon with watercress sauce

Serves 4

  • 4, 6-ounce salmon fillets
  • 1 lemon, sliced into 4 or 5 medallions
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 6 fluid ounces white wine
  • 2 – 3 sprigs fresh tarragon
  • 2 – 3 sprigs fresh dill
  • 6 whole peppercorns
  • Pinch, kosher salt
  • As needed, watercress (for garnishing)

Lemon and watercress sauce

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 6 – 8 fluid ounces milk (warm)
  • 1 lemon, zested, juiced
  • 1/8 teaspoon sugar
  • To taste, kosher salt and cracked black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped watercress

1.  Place lemons, butter, wine, herbs, peppercorns and salt in a large sauté pan (with lid).  Gently apply heat until butter melts; add salt.  Place salmon on top of the lemons.  Cover with a lid, and maintain temp so that liquid does not bubble.  Meanwhile, for sauce:  in a small sauce pan, melt butter and add flour; mix to make a paste (this is called a roux).  Whisk in milk, bring to simmer; add lemon zest and juice, sugar, and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.  Add chopped watercress.

2.  When salmon has poached for approximately 12 – 15 minutes (or is firm to the touch), remove from poaching liquid.  Serve atop pasta, along remaining watercress and sauce.

Published in: on April 28, 2011 at 6:39 pm  Comments (5)  
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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. OUTSTANDING, DELICIOUS, and OH SO SIMPLE to prepare….thank you Clint for this fabulous recipe!! You are AWESOME!!

    • Momma Hag: I’m really glad you (and your husband) enjoyed the recipe. And as far as being “awesome,” I learned it by watching you. Three weeks left!

  2. Why thanks, friend…..didn’t get a chance to tell your lovely wife to have a Happy Momma’s Day, but I am sure she will….!!Yeah for three weeks!!

    • I made this recipe again last night….couldn’t find watercress in Gburg…arrghghghghg, but just made the lemony sauce, added some sauted asparagus spears, little pasta and served it to my mom and Val….their first time….needless to say, easy again, YEAH!, and NO leftovers!!!!

      • I’m happy you enjoy this dish, but I’m even happier that (after those horrendous storms last week) you still have a kitchen to cook in. Three cheers for summer break!

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