When the outdoor temperatures approach the century mark, cooks begin to rack their brains for ideas on how to prepare good food with a minimum of heat and fuss. Poached fish comes to mind as an easy method of producing a delicious, healthy protein that checks several boxes:
- Fish is a light menu choice for hot weather appetites. Poached fish only needs 5 to 10 minutes on the stovetop, and it does not call for any fancy equipment.
- Depending on how much fish your crew will eat, all you'll need is a deep frying pan. For a larger amount of fish, some cooks use a high-sided roasting pan.
- Health-focused eaters who eschew heartier proteins like beef, lamb and pork will welcome a fish fillet in the center of their plates.
Unfortunately, fish can be delicate, falling apart easily. To keep it in one piece, many chefs and cookbook authors recommend poaching a large piece of fish, i.e., the entire side of a large fish or smaller whole fishes. I have had success, however, with the individual portions of firm-fleshed fillets like salmon, which are sold in most grocery stores. You could probably use any meaty fish fillet -- mahi-mahi, swordfish or tuna, for example.
Salmon goodness: omega-3 fats are only the beginning...
Since everyone in my house likes salmon, it is the first choice for fish. We often eat it in some form or fashion two or more times per week. (The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans encourage fish consumption twice weekly.) If you're following the Mediterranean Diet, fish can be eaten often, as opposed to red meat, which should be consumed infrequently.
Salmon is touted for its omega-3 fats, particularly EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which are long-chain fatty acids that are anti-inflammatory and cardioprotective. Populations that regularly eat fish, e.g., the Inuits and Japanese, have fewer heart attacks and problems with fatty plaques lining their blood vessels.
As is often the case, eating fish may be more protective than taking fish oil supplements.
Studies attribute many other well body effects to DHA, including benefits for the nervous system, vision and memory. It may contribute to successful aging.
- More than 20 grams of protein
- Less than 6 grams of fat
- Niacin (vitamin B3), more than half the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA)
- Vitamin B6, more than a third of the RDA
- Vitamin B12, twice the RDA
- Choline, excellent source (20% or more)
- Vitamin D, one of the few foods that contain vitamin D
- Appropriate for pregnant women due to high levels of EPA and DHA (beneficial for infant health) and low levels of mercury
Classic recipes call for poaching fish in court bouillon, a seasoned liquid simmered for a short time to blend flavors. (Court is the French word for "short.") Because I am lazy and don't want to pump any more heat into the kitchen than necessary, I simply add seasoning to the poaching water at the same time that I add the fish.
Here is my Summer Poached Salmon. In addition to lemons, a quick sauce, like aioli or pesto mayonnaise, will increase their yum factor!
Summer Poached Salmon Fillets