As you can see this poached whole Atlantic Salmon looks very impressive and it tasted fabulous.
The method of slowly poaching a whole fish in a fish kettle is easy. The poaching liquid in this case was salted water, whole parsley – leaves and stalks, black peppercorns, lemons and onions cut into thick slices.
The poaching liquid (bouillon) can be a combination of salted water and white wine and contain some aromatics of your choice to flavour the stock. Common are whole black peppercorns, fresh fennel, or fennel seeds, dill stalks or seeds, carrots, celery, fresh bay leaves, thyme, but it is important not to use too many ingredients to flavour the liquid because the strength of cooking the fish in this way is to taste the natural taste of the fish.
The greatest advantage in using a fish kettle is that it contains a perforated insert on which the fish sits, enabling it to be easily lowered into and raised from the poaching liquid. Placing some of the ingredients (if not all) to flavour the fish underneath the perforated insert can be advantageous and keep the bottom side of the fish from being over flavoured. Some of the flavourings can also be placed in the centre of the fish.
I do not have a photo of the fish kettle that was used to poach the Atlantic Salmon (it belongs to my friend), but in this photo below is of my fish kettle. It is much smaller but it can easily hold two fish. The 1k flathead is sitting on the perforated insert.
Unfortunately giving precise information is not possible because it depends on the size and species of the fish and how cooked you like it. We are talking about poaching the fish on low heat. Don’t bring your pot to a boil, or to simmer. It needs to reach the required temperature slowly.
If you have thermometer the fish will need to be poached at a temperature of 80-85 °C.
If you do not have a thermometer observe how small bubbles will gently rise and break on the surface. This is your indication that it has reached the required temperature. .
Place aromatics into the fish kettle, place the fish on the perforated insert, add the liquid to cover the fish (it must be covered). Cover with a lid and wait till the temperature reaches of 80-85C or till the small bubbles rise to the surface. Leave it for about 5 minutes.
This large fish was about 4k and it took about 30 mins for the bubbles to rise to the surface or to reach the poaching temperature.
Switch off the heat and allow the fish to stand in the water until it is at room temperature.
Test the fish by inserting a skewer or fork into the thickest part of the fish – undercooked fish resists flaking and is translucent, cooked fish is opaque and flakes.
Remove it from the poaching liquid and the fish will be ready to eat. It is best eaten at room temperature.
A herb salad or a simple dressing made with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and fresh herbs is perfect. Any of the following soft herbs: parsley, dill, tarragon, chervil, fennel.
If you need to refrigerate the fish or have fish left over and want to serve it the next day it could be served with a stronger sauce.