Un Frisson: Poached Salmon

October 17, 2011

The journey not the arrival matters.
~T.S. Eliot

An old school angle of using moist heat to envelope this savory, pink friend.

Appearing in the ancient Roman cookbook, Apicius’s De re Coquinaria, poaching has been in kitchen parlance for centuries. But, not until the 17th century, when fire became more manageable, did the technique truly blossom into vogue. The French call this method frisson, which is a moment of intense excitement—a shiver, a shudder, a thrill [from the Old French friçon, a trembling, from the vulgar Latin *frictio (friction), a derivative from Latin frigēre, to be cold]. Not to be boiled aggressively, but gently slipped into and simmered in an oh so delicate aromatic liquescence.

A detour worth embracing, indulging.


3/4 C shoyu
3/4 C water
1 T raw sugar (turbinado)
2 star anise
8 green peppercorns
2 dried guajillo or ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded and halved
1 1/4 lb salmon fillet, cut into two portions

Bunch of scallions, trimmed and halved

Combine the soy sauce, water, sugar, star anise, pepper corns and chiles in a heavy, deep skillet. Raise the heat to medium high, and bring to a gentle boil.

Add the fish and enough liquid to completely cover the fish. Bring to a lively simmer. Poach until the salmon is just slightly opaque, about 10-12 minutes, turning once as the liquid becomes a glaze. Remove and discard the star anise, peppercorns and chiles.

Serve over jasmine rice, ladled with the sauce and garnished with the scallions.

2 Responses to “Un Frisson: Poached Salmon”

  1. This sounds delicious – I’ve never poached salmon before, but it does sound yum.

  2. fran padow Says:

    Many,many years ago, a family (uncle, aunt, niece and mother) “adopted” me. Joyce and I worked for Thomas Eagleton. They refined me (Sugar Creek girl) by asking me for dinner every Sunday. One of Jo’s (Joyce’s mother) favorite recipes was poached salmon. This is the recipe. Bring water, peppercorns to boil, place salmon pieces in the water. Cover and cook for aboutu 10 minutes. Serve with rice and make sure there are lemons to squeeze. They were quite a bunch. Upper middle class – lived smack dab in Georgetown in a beautiful town home.Charles traveled with his companion, Roy, to all sorts of places in the world. A Zebra rug was in the living room. As time went by, protesters picketed their place – PETA. I will never forget the Ellis family. Aunt Charlotte was a graduate of Parsons. Joyce was a precious friend who helped me navigate the waters of D.C. Joyce was diagnosed at 40 (or so) with a rare cancer of the spine. I still have her letters that she sent me. Thank you,Gordon.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: