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Fear and Poaching

June 10, 1993|BEV BENNETT

I used to be intimidated by television programs where master chefs would swaddle a whole fish in cheesecloth and wrestle it into a $150 fish poacher. I could barely fit four hamburgers into my skillet; how could I poach a whitefish? I decided I'd rather get out the grill when I was doing a fish.

It took me years to realize that poaching enough fish for a couple of people is far easier than poaching a whole salmon or comparable fish. It doesn't need special preparation methods or equipment. In fact, all that's really needed is a skillet deep enough to hold the fish and enough cooking liquid to cover it half way.

Now I actually like poaching. It's fast, there's no waste, and it retains the natural flavor of the fish while adding few calories. When I want to serve fish with a sauce, I poach the fish first to create a mild base for the sauce.


Since locally grown new potatoes and tomatoes are coming to market, I combine the two in a zesty salad that complements the fish.

POACHED SALMON WITH ORANGE-MINT CREME FRAICHE 1/2 cup dry white wine 1/2 cup water 1 bay leaf 3 to 4 peppercorns Zest 1 orange 2 (5-ounce) salmon steaks Salt Freshly ground white pepper Orange-Mint Creme Fraiche

Combine wine, water, bay leaf, peppercorns and orange zest in medium non-reactive pan. Bring to simmer. Add salmon steaks and cook over low heat 5 minutes on 1 side. Gently turn over and cook second side until fish is done, 4 to 5 minutes longer.

Remove salmon to 2 serving plates and set aside to cool to room temperature, 15 to 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and white pepper.

Prepare Orange-Mint Creme Fraiche. Spoon over salmon or serve in bowl. Makes 2 servings.

Orange-Mint Creme Fraiche 1/4 cup creme fraiche, or 2 tablespoons sour cream mixed with 2 tablespoons whipping cream 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice 1 tablespoon minced mint leaves Salt Freshly ground white pepper

Gently stir together creme fraiche, orange juice, mint and salt and white pepper to taste in small bowl. Makes scant 1/2 cup.

POTATO-TOMATO SALAD 2 medium new potatoes 1 cup cherry tomatoes, stems removed 1 green onion, white and green parts, finely chopped 1 tablespoon minced cilantro 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon white wine vinegar 1 tablespoon olive oil Salt, pepper

Cook potatoes in boiling water to cover until tender, about 30 minutes. Drain well. Peel, if desired. Cut into bite-size cubes and place in bowl.

Halve tomatoes and add to potatoes along with green onion and cilantro.

Stir together mustard, vinegar, oil and salt and pepper to taste in cup. Pour over potato mixture, tossing gently but well. Set aside 10 minutes for flavors to blend. Makes 2 servings.

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