Everyone loves a good portion of fish ‘n chips, but not everyone appreciates the added fat and calories that come with it. Here’s where poaching comes in — a simple, healthier, and flavorful way to prepare fish with no batter, no breading, and no hot oil. When you return to Ireland, you’ll definitely find poached fish in restaurants there, but until then, try this recipe that comes from renown Chef Jacques Pépin, whom I was fortunate to interview onboard an Oceania cruise where he serves as Executive Culinary Director for the line. His method, known as shallow- poaching, uses a cartouche, a parchment paper cover that allows the fish to cook gently with moist heat while allowing some of the steam to escape. “If you use a lid,” Pepin says, “you run the risk of overcooking the fish because it becomes too hot inside the pan. With the shallow-poach method, you also create a fish broth, called cuisson, which can be used as the base for a sauce.” Serve this with boiled potatoes for an Irish touch!
SHALLOW-POACH FISH PROVENCAL
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 (6-ounce) fish fillets, such as halibut, cod or snapper, rinsed and patted dry
1 cup white wine
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
10 Niçoise olives, pitted
2 sprigs fresh parsley
1. Melt butter and oil in bottom of a small, straight-sided sauté pan; line pan with shallot slices. Place fish fillets on top of shallots, leaving space between them. Add wine to a depth is one-quarter the thickness of the fish. Place lemon slices (reserve 2 slices for garnish), tomatoes and olives on top of fish; place herbs around sides.
2. Make a cartouche by cutting a parchment paper circle 1 to 2 inches larger than the sauté pan; butter one side of cartouche. Cover fish, buttered-side down, and then tuck it into sides of pan. Bring fish to a simmer over medium heat, checking occasionally to be sure fish is not boiling and adjusting heat to maintain a gentle simmer. When fish reaches an internal temperature of 125°F to 140°F, transfer to a plate; cover with cartouche to keep warm.
3. Discard thyme and bay leaf, increase heat to medium-high, and cook liquid for 3 to 4 minutes, or until sauce is slightly reduced.
4. To serve, spoon sauce over fish, olives and tomatoes; garnish with parsley and reserved lemon slices.
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