Explore The Ease of Poaching. Your Fish and Your Guests Will Love You For it.

Main Course / April 24, 2018

Liquid +Temperature +Love. = Success. Really. Poaching is one of the easiest methods for cooking meat. It is a technique that once mastered makes so many recipes elegant and worry-free. EVEN FISH.

“Oh, sure, sure. You make it look so easy, Camine.”

Because it is… When I arrived at the market, I had planned to make almond dusted baked cod, but the cod at the market smelled fishy. Which, fresh fish should have no smell at all. Do you understand? There should be no odor other than a briny freshness. (Yes, I should do a blog just on choosing fish. Stand by!) So, then I had to keep looking. And when I saw this exquisite trout in the case, which was firm, and perfect, and FRESH, I thought how lovely it would be to poach it. Plus I already had coconut milk in my cart.

​Then I got all geeky and excited about flavors, (because coconut milk is such a great flavor vehicle.) So I decided I would add some mint and basil, and the perfect curry. And then sear some orange peppers with shallots, and… boy that butter lettuce or gorgeous! (By the way, found these filets and more at Sprouts in Ballantyne in Charlotte NC. Awesome place!)

Picture Picture
Frequently, when I “experiment,” I summon friends over to help sample my first-time creations. We just about fell off our chairs this was so astonishingly balanced and surprisingly complex. So much of that is because moist-heat cooking like poaching keeps dryness from entering the equation. The fat in the coconut milk holds on to the food, and emulsifies all the good stuff, offering a luxurious sensation of flavors you can’t resist.
Just a couple inches below this gorgeous photo of simmering, steaming loveliness is your happy place to download or copy the whole shabang. Look good? Luckily all the “details” are in the recipe. Like the addition of the wilted shallots and orange pepper, and how starting with a little melted butter makes you a star. And why tri-color quinoa is as fun to say as it is to eat…and…and…

Mint, Curry, & Coconut Poached Trout

With Seared Shallots and Peppers over Tri-Color Quinoa

Serves 4


4 fresh trout filets, with skin on. About 1.25 to 1.5 lbs
4 T each finely chopped fresh basil, and fresh mint leaves
1 13.5 oz. can full fat coconut milk. (Lite can be used but it won’t work as well.)
¾ t high quality curry powder. I used Penzeys brand
Juice of ½ a lemon, or about 2 t
¾ orange pepper cut into thin strips
½ small shallot cut into thin slices
2 T grape seed oil, or other light, high-heat oil
3 T salted butter
Appx 2 t kosher salt and 1 t black cracked pepper
1 ½ C cooked tri-color quinoa


  • Prep the trout by cutting through the middle of the skin holding the two opposing filets together, if connected. Pat dry. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Empty the coconut milk into a mixing bowl. Whisk to incorporate the fat and milk together if it has separated. Microwave for about 30 seconds to warm. Add about 2 T of the chopped basil, 2 T of the chopped mint leaves, the lemon juice, the curry powder, and a generous ½ t of salt and about ¼ t black pepper. Whisk well. Stir and set aside.
  • In a large metal sauté pan, heat the oil to shimmering. Add the shallots and orange pepper and then lower heat to medium high. Stir until shallots are wilted and barely begin to brown. Remove and set aside. While pan is hot add the butter. When melted add the trout, skin side down to sear. Starting with the skin side down will make it easier to flip the fish. When you see a slight bit of opacity on the outside edges of the flesh of the fish, after about 2 minutes, gently flip the fish over with a long and wide spatula so that each filet stays intact. Lower heat to medium high, and add all but about ¼ C of the coconut milk mixture. (That’s just how it worked out! I didn’t need more…If you are adding additional filets and cooking for 6, you can use all of the herb-curry-milk mixture.) Let the fish poach in the liquid for about 4 minutes.
  • To serve place a bit of the quinoa on the plate. I recommend a bit of a bowl-type plate like a bistro plate, because the sauce is thin and you don’t want it running away from the food. You want it floating there under the fish. Now place a filet on top of the quinoa, and then top with a serving of the peppers and shallots, dividing what you cooked evenly on all plates. Ladle the sauce that is in the pan over the fish letting it puddle at the bottom. Then garnish with the rest of the chopped mint and basil. — Serve with a Pouilly-Fuissé, or dry Rosé.

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