At Alaska King Salmon Adventures on the Nushagak River, we cook a lot of fish, many different ways. Poaching fish is one of the most fool-proof ways to prepare it, especially fish like Arctic grayling and northern pike, which we have a lot of in the Nushagak River. Many cooks fear the dreaded “dry” fish, but poaching at a lower temperature keeps fish moist and tender and ends up being one of the most forgiving ways to cook your catch. Easy to season either with the poaching liquid or a pan sauce, mild fish lend themselves to an endless variety of flavors.
The only trick to a nicely poached fillet is not to boil the poaching liquid as it will cook the fish too fast and will cause the butter to separate. Whether you’re looking for a dressed-up dish for fine dining or a quick shore lunch, give this often overlooked cooking method a try.
While this recipe works great with Alaska-caught fish in our camp, try it with walleye, bass, panfish and bottom fish from the ocean. Any meat that’s white and flakey cooked, will turn out great, poached.
Butter Poached Walleye
1 pound walleye fillets, skin removed
2 cups fish stock or chicken broth
1 cup dry white wine
5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped parsley
5 cloves garlic, sliced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt to taste
Additional parsley for garnish
In a large saucepan on medium-low heat, melt butter. Add onions and garlic to pan and cook 3-4 minutes until translucent. Do not let butter brown. Add stock or broth and wine to saucepan and increase heat to medium. Salt to taste. When bubbles begin to form, turn heat to medium-low adding fish and chopped parsley. The cooking liquid should almost cover the fish. Poach fish about 5 minutes keeping liquid under 180º. Squeeze lemon over fish and serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve. Fish can be served cold on a salad if desired.