Poached Fish with Broccoli

Recently, my wife bought me a fish poacher. You know, one of those elongated contraptions with a rack used to facilitate the boiling, or poaching, of fish. I must say it is convenient; and a healthy low-fat way to prepare seafood. You simply poach the fish in water, broth or vegetable juice seasoned with herbs, spices, or even wine. You can even poach the fish in milk. The possibilities are endless. This can work with fish fillets or, as I prefer, any whole fish be it sea bass, striped bass, bluefish, red snapper, monkfish, catfish, you name it. In the recipe that follows I tried it with a mullet; a fairly inexpensive fish that provides a great, delicate taste.

As noted, the cooking liquid for the fish may vary. In  French they call it a court bouillon. And it usually consist of water and wine blended with spices and one or two vegetables such as carrots and onions. My recipe is simpler than that I used plain water and seasoned the fish beforehand Nuyorican fashion with all the ingredients. In this case: olive oil, vinegar, pepper, oregano. For more a flavor profile I added two spices common to Indian cuisine, coriander and cumin. So this poached version has an international flavor to it. Along with it I decided to make some stir-fried onions and broccoli florets. Yes, unlike one of our past presidents, I do love broccoli---and it went pretty good with the poached fish. 

The good thing about poaching is the ease of cooking. Once the fish is simmering in the container, there is nothing more to do. Just wait till it's done.  The rule of thumb is to cook the fish 10 minutes for each inch of thickness. I just peek at it from time to time until it's tender. You can also save the cooking liquid in the refrigerator or freezer for later use as fish stock.


1 three pound whole fish, cleaned scaled, but with head intact
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon vinegar (red or white)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced into rings
1 head broccoli, florets only
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons water

1. Rinse the fish well and pat dry with paper towels.
2. With a sharp knife make four to five incisions on each side of the fish.
3. Drizzle fish all over with olive oil and vinegar. Sprinkle with pepper and oregano, patting ingredients into the surface of the fish. Do the same with the coriander and cumin.
4. Lower the fish into a poacher with a tight-fitting lid, or a deep sauce pan or other oval casserole or pot large enough to hold the fish. Place the crushed garlic inside the fish.  Add enough water to cover half of the fish, about 2-3 inches.
5. Bring the liquid to a boil, cover the pan, and boil for exactly 5 minutes. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes more.
6. While fish is cooking, heat olive oil in a medium skillet or fry pan. Add the onion and broccoli and sauté, stirring constantly for about 3 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons of water, cover pan, lower heat and simmer for 2 minutes more or until broccoli is tender but still firm. Season with salt and pepper.
7. When fish is done, remove with slotted spoon from liquid and place on a serving dish, surrounded with the broccoli and onion (or you can serve the broccoli and onion on the side, if you wish).
    Yield: 4 servings.

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