Our go-to method of cooking fish involves the oven, but lately, it seems we have been over-roasting everything. The dry, chalky flesh that results is unpleasant, and really, a sad waste of good fish. I was more than ready to seek out new cooking methods.
We had tried poaching fish before, using a pot on the stove, with moderately successful results. However, when I came across an Eric Akis recipe that involved poaching in a slow cooker, in broth instead of water, I was intrigued. My sister had given us a slow cooker for Christmas that we had yet to break in, so I was eager to kill two birds with one stone.
The recipe involved combining chicken stock, wine and orange juice with a number of aromatics and spices, including fennel and saffron. After simmering away on low for four hours, filets of fish would be added to the liquid for ten minutes. In our case, we used two beautiful pieces of wild halibut from Ocean Odyssey Inland.
To accompany the fish, a trip to the Old Strathcona Market had garnered carrots from Peas on Earth and parsnips from August Organics that I roasted with some baby potatoes we already had on hand. So simple, but so delicious – the tiny parsnip coins were my favourite, caramelized to candied perfection.
Exactly ten minutes and our entree was done, flaky and moist throughout. And in contrast to roasting, this technique is more forgiving, with a few additional minutes in the hot bath not likely to dry out the fish. The flesh had taken on both the rich, yellow hue of the saffron-infused broth, as well as the flavour. Although fennel, garlic and pepper had also been used to season the liquid, we couldn’t taste anything but the dominant saffron. For that reason, we’d likely choose a different flavouring agent next time, but would definitely attempt this cooking method again.
Poached Halibut with Saffron and Roasted Vegetables
Hurrah for new recipes!