Poaching is a culinary technique, in which products like fish, eggs, meat and vegetables are cooked in a liquid at a temperature, which has not reached a boiling point. In other words - a temperature lower than 210°F (100 degrees), which varies according to the product we want to prepare, varies the duration of the process.
Water, various broths, milk or sauces can be used as a liquid, depending on the requirements of the recipe we have selected.
Among the ideal foods for poaching is fish, because through this technique it becomes very healthy, tender and tasty. However, in order to achieve optimal results, it must be properly prepared at the exact liquid temperature of 180°F (80 degrees).
If cooked over a low heat, the fish proteins are released in the water, which flavors the broth itself, but the fish turns out tasteless. It is also irrigated with liquid, deformed and even falls apart.
At higher temperatures, the results are also unsatisfactory, since there is a risk, that the fish will harden on the outside and become overcooked and dry on the inside.
One of the tricks used to preserve protein bonds is to add vinegar to the liquid. Contrary to popular belief, it does not harden the product we are poaching, but actually softens it and helps to preserve it whole and to preserve its taste.
Since poaching is part of the French culinary tradition, here is a recipe, which the French use to prepare poached fish:
As liquid, they use a broth they call court bouillon, made from water, salt, vegetables, herbs, lemon juice and a little white wine. Court Bouillon can be quite simple - salted water and white wine, but adding more flavor is always the better option.
To make a basic court bouillon use about 8 cup of water, 1 carrot, 1 small onion or 2 shallots, 1 cup white wine, 1 sprig of rosemary, 2 sprigs of fresh tarragon, 2-3 pinches of salt and 1/2 lemon, which is cut into circles. Boil over medium heat for 30 minutes and leave it to cool.
You can use any type of fish for poaching, with the only condition that it is fresh. Choose one with shiny scales, dark gray eyes and tight and transparent meat. Ask the fish shop to clean it and cut it into fillets, or do it yourself.
You can leave it or remove the skin with a sharp knife. It is best to leave it only to help maintain the fish whole during the heat treatment, especially for white fish, which are much more delicate and tender than blue fish.
In case you leave the skin, make 2-3 light cuts on it to avoid the fillet from folding when poaching the fish.
Strain the prepared broth into a bowl, which will fit the fish. Heat it to 160°F (70 degrees), by strictly controlling the temperature with a kitchen thermometer. Add the fish fillets (or cutlets) and make sure that the liquid covers them well by at least 2-3 fingers.
Cook for 5 minutes or until the fish meat loses its transparent hue. The time also depends on the thickness of the pieces, as well as whether it is white or blue as a species. But the universal rule is 15 minutes per kilogram of fish.
Make sure the water does not boil.
When the poached fish is ready, remove it with a large slotted spoon and drain it well.
Easy, quick and healthy!