Poaching salmon is such a wonderful method of cooking the fish. Whether it is in water, wine, or even champagne, the end result is a moist and delicate salmon that is beyond just good. The first time I remember having poached salmon was many years ago when a close french family was in town visiting over the holidays. One particular evening, us Americans were going to be served dinner prepared by our French guests. We were served a wonderful champagne poached salmon with a delicious champagne cream sauce. This meal has forever been in my mind. Wine or champagne subtly enhances the flavors so wonderfully that I opt for this before water every time. However, water will poach the salmon just fine. Poaching is rather convenient during the ‘off’ grilling months when it is too cold to be outdoors. The piccata sauce has been lightened a bit but offers just as much flavor as one would expect. This is a nice and light dinner for any season…
*Please note: many recipes call for roughly a cup of wine and adding water to bring the liquid up to the sides of the salmon. I tend to pour heavy on the wine (2 cups?) and then add water. The flavors are enhanced even more. The choice is yours!
1 lb center-cut salmon, skinned and cut into 4 servings (or leave it whole and cut after the poaching)
1 1/2 c dry white wine
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2-3 sprigs fresh dill, plus 1 tbs for garnish
3 sprigs parsley
1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tbs capers, drained and rinsed
3 tbs lemon juice
1/4 c light sour cream or cream fraiche
1/2 tsp kosher salt
Pour one cup of wine in a large sauce pan and place the dill and parsley sprigs down on the bottom of the pan. Place the salmon skin side down on top of the herbs and pour in enough water to come just to the top of the salmon, but do not cover completely. Bring to a low boil and reduce the temperature once it begins to boil to a simmer. Let the salmon cook in the liquid for about 5-8 minutes. Ladle the hot liquid over the salmon to help it cook evenly. Remove salmon from cooking liquid and let sit for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and saute until they begin to become translucent, 1-2 minutes. Add the 1/2 cup of white wine and let simmer for a couple of minutes until it reduces slightly. Stir in the capers and lemon juice and cook for another minute so the flavors can meld. Remove from heat and let it cool slightly before adding the sour cream or creme fraiche. Taste the sauce and adjust it if necessary. Feel free to add another squeeze of lemon juice if you want it to be a bit more tart. Season with salt to taste.
Serve the salmon on a platter or on individual plates. Top the salmon with the sauce and garnish with dill. Serve immediately.