While poached salmon may seem complicated to some home cooks, poaching is one of the simplest ways to cook this popular fish once you know the poaching secrets, and it’s even better topped with this deliciously easy mustard dill sauce that’s ready to serve in under 30 minutes.
Easy Poached Salmon with Dill Sauce
Healthy-ish. Formal-ish. Style-ish. Lately these are words I’ve been adopting with relish.
In their root form, these lifestyle descriptions can sometimes feel too hard to achieve. Because who can truly devote themselves to always eating healthy and acting healthy when wine and cookies beckon? And who has it in them (not to mention the time) to nail each and every detail as the ultimate entertainer? And if anyone expects me to look like I strutted straight out of the pages of a magazine, I hope they’re reading a magazine about how to wear the same uniform day in and day out.
But with that little “-ish” at the end of almost any word, those stricter interpretations become more fluid, somewhat easier, a little less intimidating, and a lot more achievable.
This poached salmon recipe is a prime example of being healthy-ish, formal-ish, and totally style-ish for cooking any time, and because both the salmon and the sauce hold up especially well, it’s perfect for a simple-ish brunch, lunch, or dinner buffet.
The recipe comes from one of this country’s most trusted sources when it comes to recipe creation and verification: America’s Test Kitchen. I’ve been a devout follower of their T.V. programs, bought the magazines, checked out the website, and the cookbooks too. So when they asked me to share a recipe from What Good Cooks Know, 20 Years of Test Kitchen Expertise, I knew that no matter what I chose to share would be stand-out for sure.
The goal of this cookbook is to become a one-stop reference guide for every level of cook to learn the secrets to success in the kitchen. True to America’s Test Kitchen form, they cover ALL of the bases. From the essentials of outfitting your pantry and kitchen to testing for the best kitchen tools, plus step-by-step techniques, improvements on classic techniques as well as new solutions for those pesky kitchen problems from how to butterfly a chicken and how to sharpen a knife.
I used my new favorite salmon from Chile, sustainable Verlasso salmon, for this dinner. Its lower fat content and buttery, fresh flavor is why I’m willing to pay extra for it.
So good looking I almost didn’t want to cook it!
After poring over the cookbook and being wooed by the likes of Indian-Style Curry with Cauliflower and Vegetables, Eggplant Parmesan, and The Best Prime Rib, I finally settled on the notion that sharing the tricks to poaching salmon is a very spring-ish and healthy-ish thing to share.
Plus, poaching a few of filets for weekly meal prep is always a good plan to have.
The cookbook gives two recipes for topping the poached fish, one with an herb and caper vinaigrette (yes!), and the one I’ve done here, a mustard, dill, and sour cream sauce flavored with shallots.
Both sauces take advantage of the layering of the flavor from the poaching liquid, and they both come together really quickly, and very flavorfully.
What’s in Poached Salmon?
To make the poached salmon as well as the dill mustard sauce for the salmon, you’ll need:
- Fresh dill
- White wine
- Salmon fillets
- Dijon mustard
- Sour cream
- Kosher salt and pepper
How to Poach Salmon
Poaching salmon requires some strategic placement. Layer some lemon slices in the bottom of a skillet, then top with fresh dill, shallots, water, and white wine. Put the salmon fillets on last.
Bring the mixture to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low and cover the skillet. Let the salmon poach for a good 11 to 15 minutes, or until medium-rare.
Once cooked to your liking, remove the salmon and lemon slices from the skillet and discard the fresh dill. Keep the poaching liquid in the pan and whisk together a quick dill sauce with it.
When the sauce is finished, spoon it liberally over the poached salmon and tuck in.
What Type of White Wine Should I Use?
Use any white wine you’d happily drink. Just avoid anything labeled as a cooking wine (the flavor isn’t nearly as good).
Should I Remove the Salmon Skin?
Nope, you can eat the salmon skin. Salmon skin is deliciously fatty and tastes wonderful.
Can I Use Another Type of Mustard?
Most likely, yes. I prefer Dijon, but if you have another kind of mustard on hand try it out and let me know how the recipe turns out.
Can I Use Dried Herbs?
No, fresh dill is a must in this recipe. Dried dill is too potent and won’t give this poached salmon the right flavor.
Tips for Making Poached Salmon
There are a few key tips to poaching fish that make it come out perfect every time. First, rest your fish fillets on a bed of sliced lemon, herbs and minced shallots. The lemons keep the fillets elevated for even poaching and the shallots and herbs flavor the broth.
Wine and water make up the poaching liquid, but not too much is required. We’re poaching here, not boiling, so only 1/2 cup of each is called for to create an even steaming effect.
Don’t be alarmed when you notice the white stuff oozing from your salmon when you cook it. It’s simply coagulated protein and can easily be swiped away. It happens pretty much no matter how you cook salmon, but if it really bugs you, America’s Test Kitchen did find a way to reduce it as reported here.
If prepping your fish for meal prep for the week, you could easily skip making the sauce. But then you’d miss out on one seriously wonderful element of this recipe. My advice? Make the sauce and store the fish and the sauce separately, to serve as you eat it through the week.
What to Serve With Salmon to Make a Meal
- Arugula Salad with Shaved Parmesan
- Baked Balsamic Vegetables and Roasted Garlic
- Broccoli Casserole with Crispy Onions
- 5-Minute Parmesan Zucchini
- Easy Glazed Carrots
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment below or take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Poached Salmon With Dill Sour Cream Sauce
- 2 lemons (one cut into 1/4-inch slices and the other cut into wedges)
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh dill plus 8 to 12 dill stems
- 1 large shallot , minced and divided
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/2 cup water
- 4 pieces salmon fillets , 1 1/2 inch thick (about 2 pounds)
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Arrange lemon slices in a single layer in a large skillet. Top with the half of the minced dill, the dill sprigs, plus half of the diced shallots, about 2 tablespoons. Add the wine and water, then top the lemon slices with the salmon pieces.
Set the skillet over high heat and bring to a rolling simmer, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until the center of the salmon is still transparent when checked with the tip of a paring knife, and registers 125 degrees F, or medium rare. This will take about 11-15 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat. Use a spatula to carefully transfer the salmon and lemon slices to a serving dish and discard the dill sprigs. Tent the salmon with aluminum foil.
Return the pan with poaching liquid to high heat and simmer until the liquid has reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the remaining shallots and the Dijon mustard and simmer until thickened, about 4 minutes. Whisk in the sour cream and butter and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add lemon juice to taste and simmer until thickened, about 1 minute. Whisk in the remaiining minced dill.
More Salmon Recipes You’ll Love
- 10-Minute Maple-Crusted Salmon
- Creamy Pasta with Salmon and Asparagus
- Baked Salmon with Creme Fraiche
- Mustard Salmon Sheet Pan Dinner
- Salmon Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce
Craving more life balance, less stress, and better health? Check out my Nourished Planner, the daily planner to help create simplicity and under-schedule your life.
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