A Simple, Elegant Meal
I adore poached salmon. No one poaches fish anymore, but it’s the ultimate feed-a-crowd meal. Plus this recipe provides great leftovers (think salmon salad, salmon cakes, salmon aspic). I was working in France many decades ago and was obsessed with making sauces “the right way.” When I was a stagier at L’Archestrate restaurant in Paris, a line cook made this awesome liaison between egg and butter by whipping the yolks over heat and then adding cool butter. It’s easy, it holds well and it’s a no-fail way to make a low-rent version of hollandaise sauce.
Poached Salmon with No-Fail Hollandaise
For the Salmon:
- Six 6-ounce, center-cut, skinless salmon fillets
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 rib of celery, coarsely chopped
- 1/2 medium onion, coarsely chopped
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
For the Hollandaise:
- 2 large egg yolks
- 1 1/2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon, plus whole leaves for garnish
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 stick unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
Total Time: 30 min
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Arrange the salmon fillets in a deep skillet in a single layer. Add the wine, celery, onion, bay leaf and peppercorns and enough of the boiling water to fully cover the salmon. Cook over moderate heat at a bare simmer until the salmon is just firm, about 10 minutes. Transfer the salmon to a platter and pat dry. Sprinkle lightly with salt.
Meanwhile, make the hollandaise. In a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, whisk the egg yolks with the water, lemon juice, mustard, chopped tarragon and cayenne until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the butter, whisking constantly until fully incorporated, about 5 minutes. If the sauce is too thick, whisk in warm water, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the sauce is just pourable. Season with salt.
Spoon the hollandaise over the salmon fillets, garnish with tarragon leaves and serve.