Olive Oil Poached Salmon

It's that wonderful time of year when our homes are filled with houseguests.   I make mealtime a little easier by preparing dishes that are versatile.  Olive oil poached salmon fits the bill, and is a dish that can be served chilled or at room temperature.  I can serve it with cream cheese and bagels for breakfast, as an appetizer with cocktails or as a dinner entree.  It's definitely a must have dish when you're expecting company.  

Poaching salmon on low heat in a bath of olive oil will create an incredibly tender and silky texture.  Rather than using a thermometer to test for doneness, I look for the appearance of white protein droplets that develop on the surface of the salmon. A few droplets on each end of the the salmon are my indicator that the end pieces are medium-rare with a rare center.  Cooking the salmon a little longer will create more droplets on the surface indicating a filet that is much firmer from end to end.  It's not necessary to remove the droplets, but if you choose to, use a damp paper towel to blot them off. 

Olive Oil Poached Salmon

Servings: 6-8

2 to 2 1/4 pound salmon filet with skin

zest from 1large orange

zest from 2 lemons

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper

2 quarts olive oil (enough to cover filet)

special equipment: fish poacher or a tall sided oven proof skillet/pot


1. Preheat oven to 200°F.   Let salmon sit at room temperature for 1 hour.

2. Rinse salmon and pat dry.  Place, skin side down, on the removable rack of fish poacher (or on the bottom of your ovenproof skillet/pot).  

3. Season the top of salmon with salt and pepper.  Spread the orange and lemon zest on the entire length of salmon.  

4. Transfer rack with seasoned salmon into the poacher.  Slowly pour olive oil into the poacher, making sure not to pour directly on the filet, which can wash off the seasonings.  Add enough oil to cover the salmon by about 1/8 of an inch.

5. Bake in the preheated oven until a few protein bubbles appear on the ends of the salmon, 60-70 minutes.  A few protein bubbles on the ends will result in medium-rare ends with a rare center.  If you prefer your salmon firmer, cook until more protein bubbles appear, and the salmon is the desired texture, 20-40 minutes. 

6. Remove the poaching tray and drain well.  Transfer the salmon to a dish towel to absorb any excess oil.  Place on serving platter.   Serve immediately or chilled with lemon wedges, capers, finely diced boiled egg whites, finely chopped boiled egg yolks and diced red onions.

Do Ahead:  The salmon can be poached, drained, cooled and refrigerated for up to 3 days.  The eggs can be boiled and refrigerated for up to 4 days.