Methods for Shallow Poaching
Assemble all ingredients and preparations for shallow
Additional or optional items for flavoring, finishing and
Items necessary to prepare the sauce
Items to be shallow poached should be naturally tender and
of a size and shape that will allow them to cook in a short time. Remove
the skin and bones from poultry. If preparing fish fillets, skin and bones
should also be removed. As for shellfish, remove it from its shell, if
The liquid should contribute flavor to the food as well as
to the sauce prepared from the cooking liquid. Choose rich broths or
stocks, and add wine, vinegar and/or citrus juice.
Cut shallots, garlic or ginger root finely or mince them.
Other ingredients you wish to serve along with the sauce as a garnish
should be cut neatly into strips, dice, julienne or chiffonade. These
ingredients are often allowed to smother or par-cook in advance of shallow
poaching the main item. This is done to develop the best possible flavor,
as well as to make certain that all of the ingredients in the finished
dish are fully cooked at the same time.
Assemble all equipments necessary for cooking and
Saute pan or other suitable cooking vessel
Parchment or loose fitting lid
Serving pieces as needed, strainers, whip, tongs, etc.
Select the pan or baking dishes carefully for shallow
poached dishes. If there is too much space left around the food, then you
will need to add a significant quantity of poaching liquid, This will have
several adverse effects as it will make it easier to overcook the food.
Sauce preparation will take longer, since you will have more liquid to
reduce. Cooking speed can be more difficult to control properly too.
Parchment is generally used to loosely cover the pan as the
food cooks. It traps enough of the steam to cook the unexposed part of the
food, but not so much that the cooking speed increases. Maintaining a
gently, low cooking temperature is the best way to produce the most
Add the ingredients to the pan. Although not always
essential, a coating of butter is generally spread in an even layer in a
cold pan or baking dish. Then, the aromatic ingredients (e.g. shallots,
garlic, vegetables, herbs or mushrooms) are added in an even layer. They
may be allowed to smother lightly in the butter at this point, or they may
have been cooked separately. If they cook completely in the time required
by the main item and the sauce preparation steps, they can be added raw.
Add the main item and the cooking liquid. Set the main item
on top of the aromatics, and then pour in the liquid. It is not necessary
in most cases to have the liquid already heated. For large items, it may
be helpful, however. Be careful that it is not at a full boil. The
liquid's level should be no higher than halfway up the item. Generally,
less liquid is required. If too much is used, either a great deal of time
will be needed for it to reduce properly or only part of it will be
useable in the sauce. This is undesirable and could result in a loss of
flavor in both the main item and the sauce.
Bring the liquid to a bare simmer over direct heat. The
liquid is typically brought up to the correct cooking speed over direct
heat. There may be some occasions when it is preferable to perform the
entire cooking operation in the oven. The quantity of food being prepared
and available equipment will dictate where it is most logically done. Do
not allow the liquid to boil at any time. A rapid boil will cook the food
too quickly, affecting the quality of the dish. Fish might easily break
apart or poultry may toughen if they are not cooked at the correct
temperature - never more than 170oF (75oC).
Lightly cover the saute pan with parchment paper and finish
cooking the main item either over direct heat or in a moderate oven.
Acceptable results can be achieved by finishing the cooking over direct
heat. However, the heat in an oven, which is more even and gentle, is
preferable. In addition, finishing shallow poaching in the oven makes
burner space available for other purposes. Shallow poached foods should be
cooked until they are just done.
Remove the main item to a holding dish. Moisten it with a
small amount of the cooking liquid. Cover the item and keep it warm while
completing the sauce.
Prepare a sauce from the cooking liquid.
Ladle the sauce over the food and serve it while still very