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Saturday 16 February 2013

Super easy poached salmon with scratch Hollandaise sauce recipe

After seeing Andrew Zimmern (love his show!) post up a gorgeous picture of poached salmon with hollandaise sauce, I knew I had to give it a whirl!! (the recipe that is, not the pics - no hope of my amateur picture taking skills could ever enter the category of his professional photographers lol!). There's not much modification you can do to the Hollandaise sauce part to make it healthier, but I figured with nice slab of salmon fillets I was going to attempt to poach, things would all balance out in my flavor.. Err.. Flavor! :)

Poaching fish is super easy, you just need to keep an eye on things.  Poaching is to super gently cook something in a flavored bath... Think of it as the grandfather to the sous vide technique... not getting away with hunting animals out of season or from your evil overlord's forests! :p  I bought a large slab of salmon fillet, cut it down into hand sized portions and the fish cooked perfect despite the belly parts being naturally thinner than the thicker upper portions of fillet.  Melt in your mouth tender with just a subtle hint of flavors from the poaching liquid and herbs.

Key things to remember is to: -boil the poaching liquid in a separate pot and don't pour it directly onto the fish, pour off to the side!
-just barely cover the fish in hot liquid
-set your stovetop for the lowest or second lowest setting, just enough for the poaching liquid to move, but not bubble... A few tinny bubbles are ok.  You goal is gentle even cooking!
-the fish will continue cooking after you remove from poaching liquid, so don't be afraid to take the fish out on time!
-briefly toast any herbs you use on low heat in a non-stick pan to bring out the aromatic oils more before tossing into the poaching liquid

I'm no wine connoisseur nor sommelier by any means, but I had this crisp, sweet white BC Reisling that had nice fruity citrus notes and a semi-dry finish that was sitting pretty in my pantry (well, lying down cuz I was storing it properly), so used it to poach the fish since citrus features in the Hollandaise sauce too!

I served the poached fish with a side of roasted sweet bell peppers - clean, chop into large chunks, lightly toss or spray with olive oil, roast at 350F oven for 20-30min until tender, super sweet and lightly charred.
Next time I'm going to try with more rich fatty fish like sea bass, dense white fish like halibut or basa fillets, and add in stronger aromatics: garlic, coriander seeds, ginger, fresh chili peppers, lemon grass, kaffir lime leaves etc (not all together, but a combination of a few)... get creative!

Poached salmon with scratch Hollandaise sauce Recipe- made small changes to Andrew Zimmern's recipe, original recipe here
-Six 6-ounce, center-cut, skinless salmon fillets (approx size - poaching process is very forgiving!)
-1 cup dry white wine (sub with chicken broth if you're planning to make this gluten free)
-1 stalk celery, chopped
-1/2 medium onion, chopped
-1 bay leaf
-1 tablespoon black peppercorns (I used mixed colored ones cuz I had some)

Ingredients for Hollandaise sauce
-2 large egg yolks
-2 tablespoons water
-1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
-1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
-1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or hot sauce
-1 stick (1/4cup) salted butter, cubed, cold from fridge

Start by poaching the fish:
1) Bring a small pot of water to a boil. I used about 2cups of water, and had my water kettle with hot boiled water on standby if I needed more hot water.
2) Add the wine, celery, onion, bay leaf and peppercorns and give it a quick boil to infuse the poaching liquid ~2minutes. Remove from heat.
3) Arrange the salmon fillets in a deep skillet in a single layer. Pour the poaching liquid off to the side (not directly onto the fish!). Add just enough of extra hot water to fully cover the salmon.
4) Cook over low heat at a bare simmer until the salmon is just firm, about 10 minutes. Transfer the salmon to a platter and drain well.

While the fish is poaching, time to make the Hollandaise!

1) In a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water (med heat), whisk the egg yolks with the water, lemon juice, mustard, and cayenne/hotsauce until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
2) Gradually add the cool butter, whisking constantly until fully incorporated, about 5 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, whisk in warm water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the sauce is just pourable.
3) Spoon sauce over salmon and enjoy!!

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