The Julia Child Salmon Recipe I’ve Been Making for 25 Years (It’s Foolproof)

The Julia Child Salmon Recipe I’ve Been Making for 25 Years (It's Foolproof)

When I was growing my private chef business in the early 2000s, salmon was the protein of the moment. Everyone was talking about omega-3s and heart health, and a famous doctor was on every talk show touting them as a weight-loss food that kept skin tight and glowing. My customers were asking for salmon dishes: a couple wanted to eat it almost every evening.

Fortunately, Julia Child's cookbook, The way of cooking, was on my bookshelf and it provided me with a foolproof cooking method that produced moist, perfect salmon every time. Since then, his masterful recipe for poaching fish, as well as his recipe for poached salmon with cucumber sauce, has saved the day.

What I love about Julia Child's salmon recipe

Julia's method of poaching is the best in part because you can stay close and monitor these precious fillets in a way that you can't when they're in the oven. This is ideal for making cooked salmon for other recipes, as I have done for my clients. Once you have perfectly poached salmon, you can use it in salads, pastas, sandwiches, and anything else you can dream up. It's a foolproof meal prep item, especially in the summer.

Simple recipes / Robin Asbell

The main recipe for fish poaching

Fill a wide, deep saucepan with three inches of water. This seems like a lot, but you need to maintain the temperature once you add the salmon.

Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and three tablespoons of white wine vinegar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium.

Slide up to 8 salmon fillets (1/2 inch thick), boneless and peeled, if preferred, into the water and simmer very gently, lowering the heat to prevent the water from bubbling vigorously. It's better to poach too slowly than too quickly.

Set a timer for six minutes and place your thermometer nearby, testing the fish frequently until it reaches 140°F to 145°F, as it may be thoroughly cooked before the timer goes off (more than information below). Other types of fish can be poached in the same way, just adjust the time depending on the size of the fillets. Julia recommends two to three minutes for the sole, for example. Use a fish spatula or slotted spatula to carefully remove the fillets and pat them dry with a clean kitchen towel.

For the cucumber sauce:

Prepare this sauce before poaching the fish: it is enough for eight fillets.

  • 1 cucumber peeled, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt, sugar and white wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill leaves, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup sour cream, or half sour cream and half yogurt

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.

The fish can be served hot or cold, topped with sauce. Poached fish can also be cooled and broken into pieces for use in other dishes and can be stored in the refrigerator for three days, tightly covered.

Whether you poach salmon to serve with this simple, classic cucumber sauce or add it to quick pasta, you'll get moist, rich salmon every time.

Simple recipes / Robin Asbell

My advice for this recipe

One tip I would add is that the poaching time is often shorter for me than in the original recipe. I usually cook wild salmon, which I quickly learned takes less time than fattier farmed salmon, and I often buy cheaper, thinner tail pieces.

So, instead of relying solely on a timer, I get out my instant-read thermometer (you have one, right?) and start testing as soon as I see thin white lines starting to come out of the flesh, going all the way up to 'at 140°. F to keep the center of the flesh succulent or 145°F for firm salmon.


No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *