You ‘red’ it here first — a simple way to cook fish

Using a bed of chopped tomatoes and onions keeps fish moist while it cooks. Photo by Laura Groch

Using a bed of chopped tomatoes and onions and low heat keeps fish moist while it cooks. Photo by Laura Groch

Lots of people are frightened by fish — by cooking it, to be more exact. It can be intimidating — and easy to dry out — but I think I have a way to keep it moist and cook it more easily.

The idea is to poach the fish over a bed of juicy vegetables so it can’t burn, be overcooked or otherwise become unpalatable. It’s also a way to make use of some of those bushels of tomatoes everyone seems to still be harvesting.

This recipe came from seeing other recipes that called for cooked-down cherry tomatoes. I love cherry (and grape) tomatoes, but prefer to eat them fresh. However, I did have on hand a dozen Roma (plum) tomatoes. A tomato is pretty much a tomato in my book, so I used them instead.

Basically, I made a chunky tomato “sauce” that I then used to poach the fish, salmon in this case.  The fish came out nicely moist, fully cooked and totally toothsome. You can then use the tomato sauce over pasta, rice, or a grain (I used quinoa).

And it’s very easy to do. Just remember that the basic idea is to have enough sauce to cover the bottom of the pan you’re using, which will help cook the fish with moist heat.

Adapt your quantities to whatever size pan or family you’re working with. Just don’t crowd your pan. You can see in the above photo how I did it (and where I used my fork to test the fish).

Incidentally, I bet this would also work with a nice juicy salsa. All the chopping already done for you!

Poached Salmon With Tomatoes

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chopped celery (optional)

1 to 1 1/2 cups chopped tomatoes (or use cherry tomatoes, halved, if you prefer)

1-2 pieces salmon fillets, 4 to 6 ounces each, or one larger piece

1/4 to 1/2 cup chicken broth, as needed

Put the olive oil, onion and celery (if using) into a large skillet and cook over medium to medium-low heat until soft. Add the tomatoes and stir until they have broken down a little bit. (Help this process along by mashing the pieces with a fork or spoon as they cook.) We want the juices to flow, but not evaporate.

Once the tomato pieces are soft, lay the piece or pieces of fish on top of them, skin side down. Be sure you have enough tomato “sauce” and/or juice to cover the bottom of your pan. Sprinkle a pinch of dried basil or tarragon over the tomatoes if you wish.

Add the chicken broth for flavor, or if you prefer, white wine, or just some water with salt or seasoning.

Cover the pan and keep heat at medium to low. You want the fish to poach, not burn. Check after 5 to 8 minutes to make sure there is still enough liquid/moisture in the pan. If not, add water or broth.

Test fish after about 10 minutes by flaking it in the thickest part. If salmon is still red inside and juicy, it needs more cooking. If it is pink and flakes easily, it’s done. Turn off the heat, put the lid back on and give it another minute or two to finish.

Serve over quinoa, rice or pasta topped with the tomato-onion mixture. Makes 2-3 servings, depending on how many pieces of fish you cooked. Enjoy!

(c) copyright Laura Groch 2019

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