Poached Fish in Tomato and Vermouth Sauce


Poached Fish in Tomato and Vermouth Sauce

Poached Fish in Tomato and Vermouth Sauce
Poached Fish in Tomato and Vermouth Sauce

There’s more than one way to poach a fish. This recipe uses the common French cooking technique of shallow poaching (cuisson à court mouillement), whereby the fish is poached in a shallow liquid that is then used as a base to craft a flavorful sauce. The sauce uses a reduction of onion, tomato, cream, fish stock, white wine and some white vermouth for a touch of class. I use cod, but haddock, halibut or any flaky fish will work, too.



  • For the Tomato and Onion Reduction
  • 7 ounces (200 g) whole peeled canned tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup (80 g) finely diced onion
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • Salt and pepper, to season

  • For the Fish
  • 3/4 cup (200 ml) good-quality premade fish stock
  • 4 (5.5 oz [150 g]) filets fresh cod or other white fish
  • Salt and pepper, to season
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) French sauvignon blanc (dry white wine)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 g) butter, cut in small cubes

  • For the Sauce
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) Noilly Prat (French white vermouth)
  • 2 tablespoons (6 g) chopped fresh parsley


To make the tomato and onion reduction

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, melt the butter over low heat and stir in the onion to coat evenly. Sauté the onion for 10 minutes, or until soft and translucent.

  2. Add the tomatoes, bay leaf, thyme and a pinch each of salt and pepper, stirring the ingredients gently. Cook for 5 minutes, or until the tomatoes melt into a puree, then set aside.

To cook the fish

  1. Scatter the diced shallot into a large sauté pan and lay the filets on top. Pour in the stock and wine and sprinkle the butter cubes on top. Cover the fish with parchment paper and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

  2. When the liquid starts to simmer, lower the heat slightly to prevent boiling and continue to cook for 10 to 15 minutes (depending on the thickness of the filets), or until cooked through and tender.

  3. Transfer the filets to a plate and spoon some of the cooking juices over to keep them moist. Cover with parchment paper and keep warm in the oven while you make the sauce.

To prepare the sauce

  1. Drain the rest of the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into the pan that contains the tomato reduction, then add the cream and bring to a light boil.

  2. Reduce for 10 minutes or more, until the sauce thickens to coat the back of a spoon.

  3. Taste and correct the seasoning, add the accumulated fish juices from the resting fish and stir in the Noilly Prat.

To serve

  1. Slide the filets onto a warm serving dish, smother in the sauce and garnish with the parsley.

  2. Enjoy with french-style rice pilaf or a tagliatelle pasta to soak up the tomato sauce.

Mise en place

  1. Drain the tomatoes through a fine-mesh sieve over a bowl, then remove and discard the seeds and chop the tomatoes finely. Bring the stock to a light boil and set aside. Clean, trim and season the fish filets. Preheat the oven to 120°F (50°C).

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