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Butter poached fish

Wed, 9 March, 2016


Fish poached in butter

I’ve cooked a lot of fish in many different ways but if fresh, fish doesn’t need elaborate preparation it has so much going for it. Grilled, fried, baked, poached, en papillote plus of course deep fried in batter – there’s a way for all kinds.

But I wanted to do something different. That’s how disasters start, isn’t it? Or genius inventions. I’d vaguely remembered reading about poaching fish in olive oil, but it didn’t quite appeal – I thought more along the lines of butter.

Not much joy from the world of Google – I found a few recipes but they either featured salmon (I wanted to do white fish) or told to cook the fish cut in chunks (I was dead set on whole fillets). So between me, Google and Heston’s advice on olive oil poached salmon, I came up with the thing below.

It is truly wonderful. The fish is lovely, flaky and slimy, in a good way, not easy to overcook it and it has a lovely buttery flavour. Delishhh.

Butter poached fish

Servings: 1 fish fillet per personTime: 30 minutes


  • 1 fish fillet per person, about 150g each (halibut, turbot, brill or salmon, skin on)
  • 250g butter (unsalted), or more, if cooking more than two fillets
  • a few sprigs of dill
  • a few sprigs of thyme
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
  • lemon, for garnish

Fish, butter, herbs


1. Rinse the fish fillets and scale them, if necessary. Pat them dry very well. White fish will benefit from salting and chilling it for at least half an hour, then rinse the fish again and pat dry.

2. Melt the butter in a pan large enough to fit the fish in one layer. Add the herbs and garlic. If you have a digital probe, stick it in and heat the butter up only to 50C/125F. Lower the fish into the butter and stick the probe in the thickest part of a fillet.

Fish poaching in butter

3. If you don’t have a probe, just keep the butter on absolute minimum heat and don’t let it foam up.

4. The fish is ready when the internal temperature is 50C, with no probe cook it for about 10 minutes, depending how thick the fillets are. If you’re unsure if it’s cooked, prod it gently and see if it starts to flake – ready if it does.

5. Lift the fillets carefully out onto a warm serving plate, drizzle a little butter over them and garnish with lemon slices. Serve with a salad – here a mix of raw beetrootremoulade and coleslaw.

Note: the butter can be strained, cooled and reused, admittedly not for baking cakes, but fine for savoury cooking.

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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