Shallow Poached Salmon

Here’s another recipe from my new cookbook, The Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters. You want simple? This is just about as simple as you can get. And it was so tasty, we didn’t even miss the crispyness that we get from grilling.

Shallow Poached Salmon

Season four 5-ounce salmon fillets or 2 large (12- to 14-ounce) salmon steaks with salt.

Fill a heavy pan with enough water to come halfway up the sides of the fish. Add:

1/4 cup dry white wine
2 parsley sprigs
2 thyme sprigs
A large pinch of salt

Bring to a boil and immediately lower the heat to a bare simmer. Add the fish and cook for 3 1/2 minutes (1 or 2 minutes longer for steaks), turn the fish, and cook until done, about 3 minutes more. Keep the heat adjusted so that the water is very hot but never boils. Remove the fish to a warm plate and serve. For a quick sauce, boil down the liquid by half, and whisk or swirl in 4 tablespoons of butter, cut in pieces. Taste, and, if needed, add:

Lemon juice

Pour the sauce over the warm fish.


  • Use 1 1/2 tblsp white wine vinegar instead of wine
  • Add 2 thin slices of lemon to the water.
  • Vary the herbs: fennel, basil, tarragon, chervil, and marjoram are all delicious.

I made the sauce, which took the recipe from very healthy to very yummy in a quick buttery second. I added lemon slices to the water, along with tarragon instead of thyme, since that’s what we had. It was very good.

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