Start to Finish: 40 minutes
Difficulty Level: Beginner
Poaching keeps salmon silky and soft so that the creamy dill sauce and the salmon complement each other in texture as well as flavor. The dill adds just the right amount of bitterness to offset the richness of the dish.
This recipe, adapted from Real Simple, poaches the salmon in the microwave, making for a meal that is special enough for company, but easy and quick enough for a weeknight dinner too.
If you cook fish frequently, including salmon, invest in a pair of fish tweezers to make easy work of deboning salmon fillets. Effective fish tweezers run from $8 to $35.
- 1 1/2 pounds salmon fillets
- 1/2 cup poaching liquid
Use plain water as a poaching liquid, or add additional ingredients to infuse the salmon with more flavor. Your options include:
- Water plus a few tablespoons of lemon juice
- Court bouillon
- Chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon of melted butter or olive oil included with any liquid
- 2 cups sour cream
- 1 cup chopped fresh dill, with four 2-inch sprigs reserved
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
Cut the salmon into four pieces and place the fish and poaching liquid in a microwave-safe baking pan.
Cover the pan and microwave the fish on medium-high power for 1 1/2 minutes per side. The fish is done when it begins to flake apart when prodded it with a fork. It will be mostly opaque, but still slightly translucent, or shiny, inside.
Cook the salmon in additional 15-second intervals, until it has finished cooking. It will cook a bit more while it rests.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website recommends that you cook all fin fish until they register 145 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read meat thermometer.
Let the fish sit at room temperature while you make the cream sauce. According to the Foodsafety.gov website, the salmon will be safe to eat for up to 2 hours at room temperature.
Sauce and Serving
Stir together all the ingredients for the sauce in a mixing bowl.
Cover the bowl and let the mixture stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend.
Pour out any accumulated juices from the salmon, and gently blot the fish with paper towels.
Spoon 4 tablespoons of sauce over the top of each salmon fillet and top each piece with the reserved dill sprig. Place the remaining sauce in a small bowl to serve at the table.
Serve poached salmon with a side of steamed green beans seasoned with salt, pepper and a splash of lemon juice, and add a simple green salad with a tender lettuce, such as butter lettuce to complement the tender texture of the salmon.
Substitutions and Variations
Once you master the basic salmon with dill sauce recipe, experiment with your favorite herbs and seasonings, or try baking the salmon instead of poaching it:
- Bake the salmon in the oven or saute it in a skillet to add a tasty, brown char to contrast with the creamy dill sauce.
- Add 3 tablespoons finely chopped shallots or capers to the dill sauce.
- Substitute chopped basil or chives for the dill.