Poach Your Fish In A Creamy Milk Sauce And Thank Us Later

Although fish and cheese might be a plate from some chefs' nightmares, fish served in a creamy, luscious milk sauce can be a succulent meal. While some people might generously spoon that liquid over the filet, a more flavorful option starts when it first hits the pan. It is time to skip the wine, oil, or other cooking liquid, and instead grab some milk.

From the delicate, flakey white fish to a heartier, dense swordfish, one aspect of cooking seafood is always paramount — no one wants a dry, bland bite on the plate. This is why using other ingredients and the right cooking method to maintain the moisture level while cooking is vital. Poaching uses low,  moist heat to cook food in a liquid, helping to keep moisture in fish as it cooks. While this cooking technique can be easy and consistent, it is more successful when using a flavorful liquid as a base.

Even though wine, butter, or oil might be a common poaching liquid, milk is a more robust option. Since that fat is key, whole milk is a better choice than a lighter option. Milk's density makes it a great vehicle to absorb more flavor. Also consider adding herbs, like thyme, or some smashed garlic cloves can add a familiar note. After the fish simmers in that creamy milk sauce, the final product will have everyone asking for a second helping.

Chose fish wisely before giving it a milk poach

While milk-poached fish can be a flavorful, easy-to-execute cooking method, not all filets work well in that creamy liquid bath. Although many people enjoy a delicate, flakey version, that option can become a mushy mess when removed from the pan. Options like flounder or branzino are better served by a nice sauté or a quick dip in the frier. There is a fine balance between a tender bite and a falling-apart forkful.

A firmer, sturdy fish is better suited for milk poaching. Options like cod, halibut, or even salmon are delightful when poached. These filets can work well with a variety of flavors. In addition, the slow, even cooking method ensures that the seafood retains its moisture while coming to temperature.

It's also wise to remove the skin before placing the filet in the pan. While a crispy texture is delightful when pan-fried, a slightly flaccid or soggy barrier to the fish does not hold the same appeal. Thoughtful preparation can ensure that the final product impresses once it hits the table.

Repurposing the poaching liquid after it's cooked

While the creamy milk poaching liquid flavors the fish during the cooking process, it does not have to go down the drain once the fish is on the plate. Transforming that flavor bomb into a sauce is quite easy. Consider adding a roux or other thickening agent to increase the density, but do not let the liquid lose its viscosity. It should be a sauce, not a paste. In addition, remember to strain any whole herbs or fish bits to ensure the best mouth feel.

If the fish is being served with pasta, rice, or even potatoes, consider spooning the milk mixture over the starch to have complimentary flavors in the dish. Or it can be drizzled over the fish filet itself to enhance the overall dish. However, if the milk poaching liquid has scorched or gone too far, it might be better to say au revoir what is left in the pan. There is no reason to run a beautifully cooked fish with a subpar sauce.