(If you’re cooking a whole salmon in a fish poacher, you’ll want to multiply all of these quantities until you get enough liquid to cover the fish)
- 2 cups cold water (ideally, filtered, such as from a Brita water pitcher)
- 2 cups Vouvray or other white wine
- 1 scrubbed but unpeeled carrot, cut into large chunks
- 1 small leek, white and light green parts only, cut into largish pieces and well rinsed
- 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
- 1 teaspoon whole peppercorns
- 1 shallot quartered
- 3 stems fresh tarragon
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Strips of lemon zest removed with a vegetable peeler, to taste
Salmon and sauce
- 1 pound salmon fillet
- 1 tablespoon butter, plus more for buttering dish
- 1 tablespoon flour
- heavy cream, to taste, optional
- lemon juice, to taste
- 1 tablespoon capers, optional
- Combine all court bouillon ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and cover, leaving a crack, and let simmer for 30–45 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 225 degrees.
- After simmering, strain the court bouillon, keeping the broth hot.
- Butter a baking dish just a bit bigger than you need to fit the fillet, and set the fish in it. Season salmon lightly with salt and pepper, but remember the bouillon will be salty. You can always add more salt later.
- Reheat your strained bouillon until it just starts to bubble around the edges, then pour it over the fish until entirely covered. Cover, if it has a lid, or if not, make a loose tent with foil or parchment over the dish. Set the baking dish in the oven for 12 minutes. Allow another 5 minutes per inch thickness of fish. You want the salmon to still be a little underdone at the center, because it will continue to cook for a few minutes as it rests, thanks to the residual heat.
- Take the fish out of the baking dish, set it on a plate, moisten with a little broth, cover and keep warm while you make the sauce.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook the flour, stirring, for a few minutes, until it begins to take on a pale yellow color. Whisk in the poaching liquid a little at a time, until you’ve made enough for a generous pool of sauce for each diner. Add some cream if you want to make it richer. Keep adding and stirring and, most important, tasting, until you’re happy with it. Lemon juice or capers perks up this sauce nicely.