Sunday 17 December 2017

Poached Salmon with Irish Butter Sauce

Poached Salmon with Irish Butter Sauce
Poached Salmon with Irish Butter Sauce

Darina Allen

For maximum flavour, we cook the salmon in the time-honoured way, by poaching it gently in well-salted boiling water. Better still, use sea water if you are close to the coast. Serves eight.


1.1kg/2½lb centre cut of fresh salmon


Salt Irish butter sauce 2 egg yolks

1 dsp cold water

110g/4oz butter, diced

1 tsp approx. lemon juice

Sprigs of flat-leaf parsley or watercress, to garnish


The proportion of salt to water is very important. We use one rounded tablespoon of salt to every 1.2 litres/40fl oz of water.

Although the fish or piece of fish should be just covered with water, the aim is to use the minimum amount of water to preserve the maximum flavour, so therefore one should use a saucepan that will fit the fish exactly. An oval cast-iron saucepan is usually perfect.

Half-fill the pan with the measured salted water and bring to the boil. Put in the piece of fish, just covering with water, and bring back to the boil. Simmer gently for 20 minutes.

Turn off the heat and allow the fish to sit in the water. Serve within 15-20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the Irish butter sauce. Put the egg yolks into a heavy-bottomed stainless-steel saucepan on a very low heat. Add the cold water and whisk thoroughly.

Add the butter bit by bit, whisking all the time. As soon as one piece melts, add the next. The mixture will gradually thicken, but if it shows signs of becoming too thick or scrambling slightly, remove from the heat immediately and add a little cold water if necessary.

Do not leave the pan or stop whisking until the sauce is made.

Finally, add the lemon juice to taste. Pour into a bowl and keep warm over hot, but not boiling, water.

To serve, lift the cooked salmon carefully from the poaching liquid. Gently peel off the skin. Garnish with the parsley or watercress, and serve with the Irish butter sauce.

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