Easy, fast and elegant, Executive Culinary Director Jacques Pépin offers a heavenly way to cook fish – the shallow-poach method. The shallow-poach technique is often new to many, and this recipe is always quick and delicious. Using the French cartouche allows the fish to cook gently.This process of cooking with moist heat enhances your culinary repertoire in a flavorful and healthy way. Steam cooks the fish, but under a cartouche that allows some of the steam to release. If you use a lid, you run the risk of overcooking the fish because it becomes too hot inside the pan. With the shallow-poach method, you also create a fish broth, called cuisson, which can be used as the base for a sauce. Enhanced only with cream, this flavorful sauce is the perfect complement for the fish.
Shallow-Poached Fish Provençal
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 (6-ounce) fish fillets (halibut, cod or snapper)
1 cup white wine, preferably from Provence
1 lemon, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
1 sprig fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
10 Niçoise olives, pitted
2 sprigs parsley
Extra virgin olive oil, preferable from Provence
1 cartouche (see CHEF TIP)
Spread the butter in the bottom of a small, straight-sided sauté pan. Line the pan with the shallot slices. Place the fish fillets on top of the shallots. Be sure there is space between the fillets. Add the wine, adjusting the amount as necessary to ensure the depth is one-fourth the thickness of the fish.Reserving 2 lemon slices for garnish, place the remaining lemon slices, the tomatoes and olives, and add herbs around the sides of the fish.
Cover the fish with a buttered cartouche, gently tucked in to the sides of the pan. Bring the fish to a simmer and cook over medium heat, checking occasionally to be sure the fish is not boiling and adjusting the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. When the fish reaches an internal temperature of 125° F to 140° F, transfer the fish to a plate. Cover with the cartouche to keep warm. Remove the thyme and bay from the broth and discard. Increase the heat to medium-high to reduce the wine sauce (cuisson) a bit.To serve, pour the wine sauce over the fish. Place the olives and tomatoes around the fish. Garnish with the parsley and reserved lemon slices. If desired, serve with hot panisse.
CHEF TIP: To make a cartouche, cut a parchment paper circle 1 to 2 inches larger than your sauté pan. A cartouche allows steam to escape and allows for gentler cooking.