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Dinner Party Poached Salmon with Dill Sauce

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Mid-April in Colorado continues to feature lovely spring weather one day and late-winter cold, windy, and snowy weather the next. Some older people still refer to this simply as normal Springtime in the Rockies.

This is the menu we chose to serve dedicated and committed nutrition science and biochemist friends after the windy, cold Denver March for Science on Saturday, April 14.

For those of you lucky enough to own a beautiful fish poaching pan, take it from the back of the closet or pantry and use it for this recipe. If you don’t own one, use any large stockpot or oval roasting pan with a lid. I promise they will work just as well.

Poaching fish in a court bouillon is worth the extra work and dramatically improves the flavor. It’s also the healthiest way to cook seafood, according to one of our most favorite food writers Kristina Johnson who owns the FormerChef blog. Poaching salmon for a short gentle boil in a well-seasoned court bouillon showcases the true flavor, and it can be done in advance and served cold, or gently and quickly reheated for about one minute in a very hot water bath. 

Kristina's fabulous 2013 recipe below was the hands-down dinner recipe chosen to use by our group of foodie friends who passionately support science. We found presenting it on fabulous blue and white china instead of all white dishes added the interest that a plain white plate almost never provides.

Poached Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce

"If your salmon comes with the skin on, leave it on while poaching, the skin will help keep the fillet together while cooking and when removing it from the court bouillon. Once the fish is cooked, the skin will easily peel off.

"Take care not to overcook the salmon, or it will become dry and lose flavor. If you see little globs of white coming out of the fish after you cook it, this is fish albumin (a protein similar to egg white), and while you’ll always see a little of it, a lot means the fish has reached over 140 degrees and the protein has started to coagulate. Don’t be afraid to leave the fish a little translucent (medium), and know that it will continue cooking for a minute or two after it comes out of the court bouillon.

"Serve the salmon warm, right after poaching or chilled. If you are going to chill it, make sure it is covered so that it doesn’t dry out in the refrigerator."

Kristina suggests, “If you can find and afford wild salmon, buy it, especially salmon that’s been sustainably fished from Alaska or anywhere on the Northern Pacific coast. Look for indicators like 'wild' and 'troll caught,' king (the largest pink salmon with the highest fat content, which means flavor), sockeye (bright dark orange in color), and coho (also known as silver salmon).”



For the court bouillon


3 quarts water

1 lemon

1 lime

1 orange

1 carrot

½ onion

2 stalks celery

1 cup white wine

3 bay leaves

10 whole peppercorns

¼ bunch fresh parsley

1½ - 2 pounds sustainably sourced salmon, whole or cut into fillets



For the creamy dill sauce


1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt

1 ½ tablespoons chopped fresh dill

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 tablespoons lemon juice



For the court bouillon


Place the water in a large stockpot. Cut the citrus in half, squeeze the juice into the water, and then add the cut citrus to the water. Cut the carrot, onion, and celery into chunks and place in the water. Add the white wine, bay leaves, peppercorns, and parsley to the water and bring it all to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes.

To poach the salmon


Before poaching fish or shellfish, strain the liquid into a large deep saucepan, deep enough to cover the fish fillets by at least ¼ inch. Bring to a very gentle simmer.

Place the fish in the pan, skin side down. Gently cook the fish in the liquid for 7 to 10 minutes or until the fish is cooked to desired doneness (we took the fish out of the water between 6 and 7 minutes and let it sit for a few minutes, and it was perfect). Serve with creamy dill sauce.


To make the creamy dill sauce


Chop the dill, and combine with the yogurt, salt, pepper, and lemon juice.

To keep the recipe light. We used nonfat Greek yogurt. Its texture is as creamy as full-fat sour cream but has a tangy taste and far fewer calories. For a decadent option, replace the nonfat yogurt with full-fat Greek yogurt, sour cream or even mascarpone cream.

Nutritional value

Unfortunately, there has been so much focus on the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in salmon from fish oil sellers that the other unique health benefits have been inadvertently overlooked.

New studies have found that salmon, not salmon oil, contains small bioactive protein molecules referred to as bioactive peptides that provide special support for joint cartilage, insulin effectiveness, and inflammation control.  

One of these peptides is calcitonin, which is also made by the thyroid gland and has been identified in regulating and stabilizing the balance of collagen and minerals in the bone and surrounding tissue. The other nutrient concentrated in salmon is selenium, which helps maintain glutathione levels associated with heart health, as well as bone and joint health.

Again, we recommend the Monterey Bay Seafood Watch app for more information on choosing high-quality salmon.

Ellen Troyer with David Amess and the Biosyntrx staff

For information on the nutritional value of asparagus view the March 20, 2018 Tasty Tuesday