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Fitting for a Fish

Time is slipping through my fingers. I can’t believe it’s February and I still have a few Ballymaloe-esque posts to go. If you’ve ever spoken to me on the phone, you know the first question I always ask is, “Coordinates?” Well, my coordinates are in South Florida, where I grew up. The temperature is currently 85 degrees.

I spent a chunk of the winter in Minneapolis. I just got back this week and feel like I didn’t survive so well. The extreme cold (when I left it was -6!) left me ill, ill-looking, and ill-tempered. I was sad not to see half the people I had wanted to, and to cancel a dinner I had planned on making for friends.

Anyway, let’s talk fish.

I didn’t want to leave the subject of poaching without at least mentioning another great use of the technique. At Ballymaloe, we poached a few different fish. I myself poached a salmon and remember the key was fitting the fish into the pan and using the right amount of salt. Basically, you want a container that just fits the fish (not too big!). At Ballymaloe, they use one rounded tablespoon of salt for every 5 cups of water. You want to use the minimum amount of water (the fish should be just covered with water) to produce the maximum amount of flavor. I used an oval Le Creuset saucepan that worked perfectly; I brought the salted water to boil (actually placing the fish in the pan to measure out how much water to use, then taking the fish out again), then placed the fish (huge center-cut piece of salmon) in the saucepan, brought it back to boil and allowed it to simmer for around 20 minutes. Then, I turned off the heat and allowed it to sit in the water for 5 minutes before taking it out. You really should serve this right quick after making it (like let it sit for 15 minutes, then out to the table it goes).

And voila! Serve with homemade hollandaise and fresh herbs (like fennel, chervil, and of course, parsley.).

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