Poaching is a method of cooking by which the fish is lowered into simmering liquid often seasoned with various herbs and spices. You can make poached fish in the oven or on top of the stove. The best fish for poaching are lean fish since fatter fish tend to fall apart although they can be done if wrapped in cheesecloth. You can poach fish that is whole as well as steaks or fillets.                                       If the fish being poached is larger than a spatula it can be lowered into the water on a rack or a piece of cloth.


A pan deep enough to hold the fish when it is covered with water. A spatula large enough to lift the cooked fish out of the water. If you have a rack that will fit in the pan that will work but make sure the fish can’t slip through any holes in the rack. You can use a cloth to lower the fish into the water.
Liquid to poach fish in.                                                                                                                         If you want to preserve the original flavor of the fish you can use plain water that has salt added to it, (about 1 tablespoon for each quart of water).
The right tools for the right job.

Here are a few recipes that will add a little flavor to the fish.

  •  Combine;  1 sliced onion
    6 whole peppercorns
    3 whole allspice
    3 tablespoons lemon juice
    1 bay leaf
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 quart water
    simmer for 30 minutes

Wine flavored poaching liquid

  1. Combine;  1 sliced carrot
    1 large sliced onion
    1 rib of celery
    1/4 teaspoon parsely
    ¼ teaspoon thyme
    1 bay leaf
  2. 2 cups white wine
    1 teaspoon salt
    3 black peppercorns
    1 quart of cold water
    Simmer for 30 minutes

  Milk lemon poaching liquid                                                                             Combine;   1 part milk and 6 parts salted water. Add lemon to taste.

For poached  fish in the oven

  1. Prepare the poaching liquid.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  3. Wipe the fish with a damp cloth.
  4. Bring the poaching liquid to a boil.
  5. Place the fish in a greased pan and pour enough of the hot poaching liquid over the fish so the fish is just covered.
  6. Place the fish in the preheated oven until done.
  7. ½ inch thick = 5 minutes
  8. 1 inch thick = 10 minutes
  9. 1 ½ inch thick = 15 minutes
  10. These are approximate times.

To poach fish on top of the stove 

      Prepare the poaching liquid and bring it to a broil.

  1. Wipe the fish with a damp cloth and cut it into serving pieces.
  2. Lower the fish into the poaching liquid with a spatula or a piece of cloth. There should be enough liquid to cover the fish.
  3. Reduce the heat and gently simmer the fish until done.  Liquid simmers at 197 degrees, this is when the liquid is barely moving. Never boil fish since boiling fish causes it to dry out, shrink, toughen and fall apart.

    How long to poach fish

    ½ inch thick = 5 minutes
    1 inch thick = 10 minutes
    1 ½ inch thick = 15 minutes

These times are approximate
Steaming has a similar flavor to poached fish.