Shallow poaching, like sauteing and
grilling, is a technique suited to foods that are cut into portions size
or smaller pieces. This method cooks foods using a combination of steam
and a liquid bath. The food is partially submerged in a liquid that often
contains an acid, such as wine or lemon juice, and aromatics, such as
shallots and herbs. The pan is covered to capture some of the steam
released by the liquid during cooking. The captured steam cooks the
portion of the food not directly in the liquid.
In shallow poaching, a significant amount of
flavor is transferred from the food to the cooking liquid. This cooking
liquid (or cuisson) is frequently used as the base for a sauce
served with the main item. Adding acids such as wine or lemon juice, to
the cooking liquid gives the finished sauce a bright flavor. Those same
ingredients also make it easier for butter to be emulsified in the sauce,
thus is often the sauce of choice.