Olive Oil Poached Salmon

Olive Oil Poached Salmon

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Jane Bruce

Olive Oil Poached Salmon

Poaching fish is a great, easy way to cook the protein while ensuring that it retains all its moisture. And poaching something in olive oil takes that to the next level. You'll want to use a tasty extra-virgin olive oil for this because the fish will absorb a lot of the oil's flavor during the cooking process. I went with simple flavors (lemon, garlic, chile, oregano) to let the olive oil and fish shine, but it would be easy to sub in any additional herbs and spices (think rosemary or other citrus) you like.

Click here to see Why You Should Cook with Olive Oil.


  • 4 Cups extra-virgin olive oil, or enough to cover the fish
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed slightly
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 Teaspoon chile flakes, or more to taste
  • 1 Teaspoon dried oregano
  • Two 1/2- pound salmon fillets
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Tips, recipes for olive oil-poached salmon?

Cooking for Hubby's bday this Saturday and as always he's requested a salmon-centric menu. For the entree I had the idea of poaching salmon in olive oil because a) I'm bored of grilled or pan-seared salmon and b) poached salmon in water or broth always tasted bland to me.

Only I've never poached salmon (or anything) in any kind of fat or oil. Can someone here give me any direct experience on this?

Searching the board I found a mention of someone who made oil-poached tuna and said it was gross. Ut-oh.

But someone recommended an olive-oil roasted salmon recipe here:
which is close to poaching (gently warm over medium heat for 3 minutes per side in oil that comes halfway up the salmon fillet).

I also found lots of recipes online, including one by Charlie Trotter here
which is poached submerged in 130F herbed oil for 10-12 minutes.

And this Epicurious one here:
which is poached in 150F oil for 8-10 minutes.

So lots of methods to choose from. Submerge in oil, or halfway up? How many minutes or to what internal temperature for just barely done salmon? When it's done, does the salmon turn a pretty golden hue, or a pallid pink, or what?

And will it make my whole house smelly with oily salmon smell? (the biggest question)


Step 1 : Choose a heavy-based saucepan or deep frying pan large enough to accommodate the fish in one layer the smaller the pan, the less Olive Oil you will need to use. Pour the Extra Virgin Olive Oil into the pan, then stand it over the lowest heat possible on your stove-top, bringing it to blood temperature only (briefly dip the blade of a knife in - it should feel warm to touch, not hot). Salt the fish and rub in the lemon rind.

Step 2 : Slip the fillets into the oil - the fillets should lie just below the surface like submarines - and cook at this gentle temperature for 10 - 20 minutes (this will depend on how low you can keep the temperature on your stove - use a simmer mat if you have one). The fish should be more set than cooked. If white dots appear on the surface of the fish (these are beads of protein), the oil is too hot, so you'll need to reduce the temperature. Next time, you'll know to cook it less - I promise it's so delicious you'll want to.

Step 3 : Carefully take the fish out of the warm oil and drain. Reserve the oil to use again when cooking fish. Dress the salmon with the lemon juice, fresh Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sprigs of chervil and serve.

Tips for Baking Salmon in the Oven

There are so many different ways that you can bake salmon. You can add black pepper, dill, fennel, mint, citrus, leeks, and even mustards. And you are certainly free to engage your creativity according to your tastes. But today I am going to share this very simple recipe for oven-baked salmon that really draws out the natural flavors of the salmon. It’s so simple! You just need extra-virgin olive oil and salt.

Please note that I do not include in the recipe a specific time that it needs to cook. That’s because the cook-time really depends on the thickness of the salmon that you have.

So how do you know when the salmon is done? A general rule of thumb is to bake salmon for 4 to 6 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness. Salmon is done as soon as it begins to flake, and you can easily test the doneness by inserting a fork into the fish and gently twisting. If it starts to flake, it’s done. Two other signs of doneness to look for: the flesh will be opaque and the juices will turn a milky-white.


  • Peel and smash the garlic clove and a pinch of salt to a paste, either with a mortar and pestle or by mincing and then mashing it with the side of a chef’s knife. Combine the garlic, garam masala, cumin, coriander, cayenne, and 1 tsp. salt in a small bowl. Add just enough of the oil to turn the spice mixture into a smooth paste, 1 to 2 tsp. Rub the spice paste all over the salmon and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 225°F.

Recipe Notes

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Bon Appétit Management Company

Poaching can feel intimidating, but it’s actually a quite simple cooking technique. Make this beautifully poached wild salmon in minutes to serve over whole wheat pasta and vegetables, all by itself, or even on a sandwich the next day.

Recipe adapted from Salt to Taste by Marco Canora.

  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 1 sprig rosemary, stripped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 3/4 pound skin-on salmon fillet (I used wild Alaskan sockeye)*, seasoned on both sides with salt and pepper
  • 2 big handfuls cherry tomatoes

Place the herbs, garlic, and olive oil in a 10-1/2 inch nonstick skillet. Heat the oil to a very gentle bubble over medium-low heat (take its temperature if you can — it should be around 180 degrees). Slide in the salmon, cover, and cook gently on very low heat for about 4 minutes. Carefully add the tomatoes, cover again, and finish cooking until the fish is just opaque, about 10 minutes longer, keeping the heat as low as possible.

Serve immediately, drizzled with some of the poaching oil, or let the fish stand in the oil, uncovered and off heat, for about 10 minutes. After serving, cool any leftovers to room temperature, then store the salmon and olive oil together in the fridge.

Olive Oil-Poached Salmon

By gently heating fish submerged in oil or water, and checking the core temperature with an instant-read thermometer, you can avoid overcooking the fish. Instead, the result is silky and moist. The fish should be sashimi-grade if it isn't, you'd do well to cook the fish until the core temperature is 130 degrees.

Olive oil adds a lovely, fresh grassy flavor to the fish as it seeps into every crack. If you do not want to use expensive olive oil, you can use a neutral cooking oil, such as sunflower oil just add a little more of the herb to compensate for the lack of flavor. You can also use lightly salted water, preferably flavored with fresh herbs and perhaps some spices, such as allspice, bay leaf and clove.

Cooking will be easier if you use a digital thermometer with a cord and internal probe, so you can leave the probe in the fish. Otherwise you will have to take the fish out to read the temperature at regular intervals.

Serve with wild rice and sauteed vegetables.

Servings: 2

Rinse the fillets in cold water, pat dry. Sprinkle with fine salt. Arrange skin side down either on top of each other or side by side in a small ovenproof pot or deep dish.

Bruise the herb to release its flavor, then place it next to the fish. Twist the lemon peel to release its oils (as you might do over a cocktail), then add to the pot. Cover with the oil, making sure the fish is completely submerged.

Transfer to the oven. Insert the digital thermometer probe in the fish. Set the oven temperature at 325 degrees. Set the thermometer to sound off when the core temperature of the fish reaches 115 degrees this could take 10 to 12 minutes. (Carry-over cooking may bring the temperature up a few more degrees that is okay.)

Use a slotted spatula to transfer the fish to individual plates. Discard the oil.

Just before serving, sprinkle each portion with a little lemon juice and zest, plus a little flaky salt.

Recipe Source

Adapted from Jeff Potter's "Cooking for Geeks" (O'Reilly, 2010), by Gastronomer columnist Andreas Viestad.

Olive Oil Poached Salmon

Olive Oil Poached Salmon, features olive oil in a bit of an unusual way. Salmon is poached, not in water, but in olive oil, which creates a wonderful silky texture in the cooked fish. The salmon comes out super moist and deliciously flavorful, truly a treat. Once the salmon is cooked the leftover oil is great as the base for a homemade Ceasar dressing. Serve the salmon along side any simply cooked vegetables or a large salad to complete the meal.

  • 30min Duration
  • 20min Cook Time
  • 10min Prep Time
  • 2-3 Servings Servings


  • 1 pound fresh salmon
  • 3 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 (3 inch) sprigs of thyme
  • zest of one lemon
  • olive oil, enough to cover the fish
  • chopped fresh thyme for serving


Place the salmon in a small saucepan. The goal is to use the smallest pan possible that will hold the fish in a single layer, so as to not need so much olive oil to cover it. If necessary, cut the salmon into pieces and fit them tightly into the pan. Tuck the garlic and thyme around the fish and zest the lemon over the top. Pour olive oil over the fish until it is completely submerged (no need to use the really good stuff).

Place the pan over medium low heat. Once small bubbles begin rising to the top adjust the stove to keep it at that temperature. The goal is about 180 degrees, which is when small bubbles rise to the top. If small white dots start to appear on the top of the fish while it is cooking that is a sign that the oil has gotten a bit too hot, so turn the stove down to maintain the proper temperature. Cook the salmon for 18-20 minutes or until the top looks cooked and the fish flakes when gently prodded with a fork.

Remove the salmon from the oil using a slotted spatula and serve with fresh lemon slices and a bit more chopped fresh thyme.


Step 1

Preheat oven to 275°. Whisk oil, harissa, and garlic in a medium bowl. Pour half of harissa oil into a 2.5-qt. baking dish and swirl to coat. Thinly slice a lemon half and remove any seeds scatter slices in dish.

Step 2

Season salmon on all sides with salt and place in dish. Pour remaining harissa oil over salmon, spreading evenly over flesh with a pastry brush or spoon. Roast 15 minutes. Remove from oven and baste fish with harissa oil pooled in dish. Return to oven and continue to roast until flesh flakes apart easily with a spoon but is not quite cooked through, 10–20 minutes longer.

Step 3

Use spoon to break up salmon into irregular pieces. Arrange salmon and lemon slices on a platter. Drizzle with any harissa oil left in dish, squeeze remaining lemon half over, and scatter some herbs around.

How would you rate Slow-Roasted Salmon with Harissa?

My wife and both loved this recipe for salmon and I made tabbouleh salad to go with it. The combination was fantastic and I will defiantly make it again

Awesome weeknight meal! So easy and flavorful. The only thing I’d say is that it’s a little one-note, but if you’re looking for a reliable salmon recipe, this is it. I recommend using cilantro to add a little coolness, and Trader Joe’s Harissa paste has worked well for me after having trouble finding good Harissa at other grocers.

Great weeknight recipe (easy, quick, minimal mess). Trader Joe’s harissa paste was a good substitute for my usual NYShuk. Additionally, I made a little tahini greek yogurt sauce on the side (I’m weak when it comes to spicy food). If I make this for friends, I think I’ll serve with a basmati rice. Loved this and will make again soon.

I cook a lot of salmon and this is my favorite salmon recipe. So good - not much more I can say about it. This pairs really well with the black lentil and harissa veggie bowl recipe

I made this for New Year dinner and it was sublime. Fish was moist, flaky and just with right amount of heat. Cilantro worked well. I served with rice and arugula-fennel salad.


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