How to Cook Salmon in a Fish Kettle


Fish kettles prove most useful when poaching whole salmon, which measure around 22 inches or longer -- too big for most pots. Fish kettles not only accommodate the size of whole salmon, they make lifting it from the poaching liquid without breaking it easy, too, with a removable perforated rack. You can poach salmon two ways with a fish kettle: cold and deep. Cold-poaching, or bringing liquid to a boil then cooking fish in it as it cools, is the gentlest method of cooking salmon, and the kettle makes it even gentler because its tight-fitting lid prevents steam from escaping.

Cold Poaching

  • Prepare a poaching liquid for the salmon. You can use something simple, such as dashi or stock, or you can make a quick court bullion, which is basically vegetable stock -- water, carrots, onions, celery, thyme and bay leaf -- with lemon juice and dry white wine to taste. Chill the poaching liquid in the refrigerator before using it.

  • Cut off the salmon's gills if present. Place the whole salmon or the salmon fillets on the rack in the fish kettle. Pour the poaching liquid over the salmon until just covered.

  • Place the fish kettle over two burners on the stove and set the heat on both of them to high. Cover the fish kettle and let the poaching liquid come to a boil.

  • Remove the fish kettle from the heat when the poaching liquid starts boiling. Let the salmon sit for 30 minutes without taking the lid off.

  • Uncover the fish kettle and lift the rack's handles to take the salmon out. Let the poaching liquid drain off the salmon and transfer the rack to a work surface.

  • Slide the salmon off the rack and onto the work surface. Pull off the dorsal fin -- the fin on the top of the fish -- and discard it.

  • Make a vertical slice through the skin from top to bottom right behind the head on both sides of the salmon. Grasp the skin and pull it from the body towards the direction of the tail, almost like peeling off a tight stocking, except easier. If the skin sticks to the flesh at any point, you can scrape it off easily with a knife.

  • Serve the salmon as is or garnish with freshly chopped herbs and lemon slices.

Deep Poaching

  • Place whole salmon or salmon fillets on the rack in the fish kettle. Pour enough poaching liquid in the kettle to cover the salmon by 3 or 4 inches.

  • Place the fish kettle over 2 burners on the stove and set the heat to medium. Check the temperature of the poaching liquid after 10 to 12 minutes using an instant-read thermometer and adjust the heat as needed so it stays between 160 and 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Poach whole salmon for 20 to 25 minutes and fillets for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the rack and rain the salmon. Skin whole salmon before serving.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check the internal temperature of whole salmon, if desired, by inserting an instant-read thermometer in the cavity; check salmon fillets by inserting the thermometer in the center. Salmon should have a minimum internal temperature of 145 F.

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