Dry Poached Salmon, with Leek Custard

19 May

(serves 6)
This is a dry poached recipe, that is to say the salmon is placed in zip-loc which is then boiled. This results in wonderfully tender pieces of salmon. The meat is then smothered in a mild custard which makes the tasting experience smoother than ever. Finally the dish is topped off with a wig of crispy fried leek, which lends just the right touch of  savoury bitterness.

Main Ingredients

  1. Salmon Fillet (500g)
  2. Large Leek (1)
  3. Custard (Bird’s) Powder (1T)
  4. Butter (50g)
  5. Milk (1 cup)
  6. Dill Weed (1T)
  7. Cumin (1t)
  8. Vegetable stock cube (0.5)
  9. Cognac (1T)
  10. Oil for deep frying


Preparation – Custard

  1. Make some instant stock using half a stock cube, one cup of hot water, 1t of cumin and 1T of dill weed (I also substitute/add chopped taragon or cilantro depending on my mood).
  2. Mix 1T of custard powder with 2T of cold milk  and 1t of sugar in a mixing bowl while heating up 1 cup of milk in the microwave till it is hot but not yet boiling. Slowly add the hot milk to the concentrated custard mixture while stirring. Lumps form easily if you do this too fast, and if you do discover lumps, force the whole mixture through a fine strainer.
  3. Cut the bottom one third of your leek into rings which are as thin as you can manage (see photo).  Put the thin rings aside for deep frying later. Cut the rest of the leek lengthwise and proceed to julienne the remainder of the stalk into thick half rings.
  4. Pan fry the half rings in some butter till they soften. Turn the fire down to minimum and add the custard, then lighten the custard by slowly stirring in your pre-prepared stock. Add 1T of cognac and some pepper,  taste and use additional seasoning if required. When the mixture is at the right consistancy, remove from heat and allow to cool. Sprinkle in some chopped parsley for a better appearance if you fancy.

Preparation – Salmon

  1. Start by putting a large pot of water to boil.
  2. If your salmon still has skin attached, cut that off first. Its alright to retain the strips of dark meat under ths skin. Next, cut the salmon into pieces which are 1/4 inch thick . Keep in mind how you wish to arrange the dish before proceeding with this step. For the example shown I used a campfire style arrangement to better house the custard, so I poached my salmon in 3 inch wide pieces, before cutting them into fingers at the end.
  3. Brush each piece of salmon on both sides with some melted butter. Arrange the fish inside one or more zip loc bags such that each piece of salmon has contact with both sides of the bag. Use thin bags, not the freezer type. Press out all the air before zipping up.
  4. Cook the fish by immersing the zip loc bag(s) in water at full boil. For best results, poach one bag at a time, making sure there is at least 10x more water than fish. Cover and turn off the heat immediately after the bag goes in. Leave it in for about 5 minutes (this really depends on the size of your fish pieces) and thereafter set them aside to cool, unopenned.
  5. Deep fry the thin leek rings till they start to go from yellow to brown. They will continue to darken even after you turn the fire off so don’t over do this. Cool in a strainer and not the oil itself or they won’t be crispy.
  6. Finally, retrieve your salmon from the zip loc(s) and cut/arrange as required. Spoon generous amounts of custard onto the fish and top off with the crispy leek. You can serve this dish refrigerated or at room temperature.


  • Why do I use the dry poach method for this recipe? I’ve tried poaching in water, poaching in court bullion, poaching in bacon and milk. In normal poaching, the liquid leaches away the taste and natural oils of the salmon unless you poach the entire fish with skin intact. On the other hand, if salmon is cooked with direct heat, like in a pan, the high heat will over harden the salmon flesh. Dry poaching is the best way by far.
  • If the campfire is too tedious, you can also try a lasagna style with the custard sandwiched between the salmon.
  • For poached fish, its paramount that you use fish that has never been frozen.Buy cuts of salmon fillet which are rectangular slabs (i.e. not the type with bone and stomach cavity. )  
  • On the stock. The best option actually would be to use Hon Dashi pellets (bonito flavour) but since not everyone knows where to get it, I’ve substituted a vegetable stock cube in the recipe. BTW, its ok to use a chicken cube too, but not beef, lamb etc.
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Posted by on May 19, 2010 in Appetizers, English, Seafood


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