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Poached Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce Recipe

Course: Main Course
Total Time: Under 30 Minutes
Skill Level: Moderate
Cost: Moderate
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Poached Salmon with Lemon Butter Sauce

Photo by: Joseph De Leo

Salmon fillets take to poaching beautifully, and it is a snap to turn the poaching liquid into a glossy, buttery sauce. For extra flavor, sprinkle the fish with 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped herbs (dill, tarragon, or chervil, or a mixture of these) before poaching, add a bit of lobster syrup to the poaching liquid. This sauce is lighter than a classic french beurre blac, which it resembles.

This preparation may be used as well for cod, halibut, and other fish steaks or whole fish, and scallops.

Yield: Makes 4 servings


For the salmon:

  • 4 salmon fillets, 6 to 8 ounces each
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Poaching liquid to nearly cover fish, such as Chicken Stock, half Chicken Stock and half Fish Stock, or half water and half wine

For the lemon butter sauce:

  • 2 to 3 tablespoons finely diced shallots
  • Poaching liquid (above)
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons cold butter
  • Few drops of lemon juice
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons chopped dill, tarragon, or chervil, or a mixture of these (optional)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


For the salmon:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Season the fish with salt and pepper.

Place the fish in a medium to large roasting pan or ovenproof casserole and add the liquid to come seven eighths of the way up the sides of the fish. Place in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, depending on thickness of the fillets. When done, the salmon should be opaque and firm to the touch. Remove from the liquid and cover with foil to keep warm, reserving the poaching liquid for the lemon butter sauce.

For the lemon butter sauce:

In the same pan the fish was cooked in, add the shallots to the poaching liquid. Over medium-high heat, bring to a boil and reduce until slightly syrupy, 12 to 15 minutes. Whisk in the butter, lemon juice, and optional herbs. Taste and season with salt and pepper.

To serve, place a fillet on each serving plate and spoon the lemon butter sauce on top.


Lemon butter sauce can be thick or thin, depending on the ratio of stock to butter. For a thicker sauce, use 3 tablespoons stock and 4 to 6 tablespoons butter.

For cold poached salmon:

• Cool the poached fish at room temperature

• Place it on a rack or plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until chilled through, from 1 hour to overnight

• Serve with Mustard-Dill Sauce

Lemon butter sauce additions:

• 2 to 3 tablespoons diced tomatoes, roasted bell peppers, or blanched carrots

• 2 tablespoons roughly chopped pale green celery leaves

• 2 tablespoons sliced scallions

• 2 to 3 mashed roasted garlic cloves

• 1 to 2 tablespoons french dijon or whole-grain mustard (especially good with scallops, skate, salmon, or swordfish)

Order of preparation:

• Poach the salmon and keep warm.

• Prepare the lemon butter sauce with the poaching liquid.

© 1996 Debra Ponzek and Joan Schwartz

Nutrients per serving (% daily value)

Nutritional information is based on 1/8 teaspoon added salt per serving, using 6oz salmon fillets, 2 tablespoons of butter, but does not include Chicken or Fish Stock. For nutritional information on Chicken or Fish Stock, please follow the links above.

409kcal (20%)
21mg (2%)
7mg (12%)
52mcg RAE (2%)
109mg (36%)
392mg (16%)
9g (44%)
29g (44%)
1mg (4%)

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