Poaching is a wonderful way to cook fish, ensuring delicate, juicy texture without much danger of overcooking into flaky dryness. Too often, poaching delivers a bland, plain-fish flavor destined to be covered up with a heavy sauce. In classical French poached-fish dishes, mayonnaise, hollandaise, and remoulade provide the zip. On the other end of the spectrum, poaching in a rich liquid like butter, a technique pioneered by Thomas Keller, yields incredibly rich, tender results.
How about a happy medium? No butter to clog the arteries or stomach in the thick heat of summer, but a big punch of flavor, eliminating the need for a separate sauce. I poached Chinese five-spice-powder sprinkled snapper (grouper is a good substitute) in a mixture of ginger ale and soy sauce in an uncovered skillet; wow! Tender, succulent, and full-flavored, yet light and delicate…delicious over chilled, steamed veggies, rice drizzled with a bit of oyster sauce, or spinach sauteed with sesame oil.
Ginger ale poached snapper
- Rinse the filets and pat dry; sprinkle sparingly with five-spice powder.
- Combine 1 cup ginger ale and 2 T soy sauce in a 10-inch skillet; add the fish and bring to a simmer.
- Cook at a slow simmer until the fish turns opaque at the edges, then flip each piece over (gently).
- Continue to cook at a slow simmer until the center of the filets turns slightly opaque (fish will continue to cook slightly on the plate).