Poached Salmon with Three Sauces

I love cold poached salmon and it’s the perfect vehicle for a variety of delicious sauces. I couldn’t decide between cucumber dill, probably my favorite, or mustard – salmon and mustard go so well together, or something with a bite like watercress. Since watercress is not in season, I substituted arugula and added some cucumber and a touch of lemon zest. I didn’t choose one over the other, though, I had all three!

The irregular shape of salmon presents a challenge to cooking it evenly. In this instance, I completely sliced off the thin edge, lengthwise, and poached it as a separate piece for four minutes. That left the thickest part, which I cut into six equal portions and poached these for seven minutes.

I prefer a rich poaching liquid which add a nice depth of flavor to the salmon. The wine and aromatics cook first until the wine is reduced down to about 1/2 cup. Cold water is added and brought to the boil and continues cooking for half an hour. Then the liquid is strained and thoroughly chilled. Both the fish and the poaching liquid must be the same temperature at the start of cooking to cook the fish evenly. Using a gentle simmer is also important to prevent the vigorous bubbles of boiling liquid from breaking apart the salmon, it’s very fragile.

Enjoy!

Poached Salmon with Three Sauces
Yield: 6 six-ounce portions

Poaching Liquid:
2 cups dry white wine
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 large carrots, thinly sliced
2 large celery stalks, thinly sliced
4 whole garlic cloves
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
12 whole black peppercorns
2 1/2 quarts cold water
3 pounds center-cut salmon, skin removed and dark meat trimmed. Cut into 6 even portions.

Place the wine, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, salt and peppercorns in a large saucepan and bring to a boil, continue cooking until the wine is reduced to about 1/2 cup.

Pour in the cold water, return to the boil ; cook for 30 minutes.

Strain the poaching liquid and discard the vegetables. Chill the liquid thoroughly.

Place the prepared salmon in the bottom of a pan large enough to hold all six pieces. Pour the cold poaching liquid over the fish to cover completely; if necessary add a little water to make sure the tops of the salmon are submerged.

Bring to a boil and immediately reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer; cook for 7-8 minutes.

Mustard Sauce
Yield: ~ 1 1/2 cups

1 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
2 tablespoons coarse mustard
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Whisk all the ingredients together and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld.

Can be made up to 3 days in advance.

Arugula Sauce
Yield: ~ 2 cups

1 cup sour cream
1 cup tightly packed arugula or watercress
1/2 cup seeded, 1/2-inch dice cucumber
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Place the ingredients in the base of a blender or food processor and puree. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld.

Can be made up to 3 days in advance.

Cucumber Dill Sauce
Yield: ~ 2 cups

1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3 tablespoons minced fresh dill or 1 tablespoon dried dill weed
1 cup seeded, 1/2-inch dice cucumber
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1 teaspoon white wine or champagne vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Place the ingredients in the base of a blender or food processor and puree. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes to let the flavors meld.

Can be made up to 3 days in advance.

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