Readers of this blog know that I all about The Ina when it comes to kitchen inspiration. I can’t live by The Ina alone, however. Just imagine how much butter that would take! Lately, I’ve had to look outside East Hampton and its zany cast of characters for less zaftig inspirations. While French Friday’s with Dorie keeps me alternately inspired and nudges my comfort zone a bit, I still long for more “regular food” inspiration now and then.
What I mean is the basic cooking technique and skills stuff, regular comfort foods, and such. I guess I feel the need to “up my game” with the”regular dishes” I have have either already made once and forgot or just never even tried because they seemed…well…regular. (See “Carrot Soup“.)
This desire had me looking once again at the stack of Cook’s Illustrated magazines piled up next to my bed. I have never once looked at a Cook’s Illustrated before bed so I don’t know why this location became their home. Each and every one of them looks nearly identical to me so even if I were actually interested in something specific I would more than likely never be able to find it again.
In one spotted this technique for poaching fish that isn’t really poaching at all. The fish is cooked above the waterline and any flavor that is lost to the water is reduced back and used in the herbed topping. It they are good at anything at all Cook’s Illustrated good at parsing food recipes and then coming up with interesting variations on technique to get more consistent results. This particular gem of a technique is the perfect example of where they excel. Where some cooking magazines and books are about being innovative and decorative, CI is about science and technique.
The legendary Escoffier must have understood the perils of poaching salmon when he recommended poaching it in a Court-Bouillon. Court-Bouillon is just a fancy French name for flavored poaching liquid. so if you’ve ever added vinegar to the water for a poached egg, congratulations, you have mastered the Court-Bouillon! Often it contains wine, aromatic spices and herbs, vegetables, lemon juice and anything else with flavor that the chef wishes to impart on the item being poached. Court Bouillon exists to add flavor where the poaching might remove it and then carry it out through the kitchen drain.
Not so here with this inventive method. The flavors never leave the finished product so you don’t need much addition to the steaming water. The flavor from the salmon will get reduced after cooking and then added back with the chopped herbs on top of the dish.
This one is a keeper and I’ll be doing it again soon. Perhaps I’d better go visit those magazines again to see what else I had passed over?
Not So Poached Salmon with Capers and Herbs