Poached Salmon on Pasta

A lot of my recipes are heavy on the seasonings and spices, so I thought to offer something a bit more mild. This one is pretty fast and easy, light, and a nice romantic dinner for two. It goes great with a sweeter white wine. You will need:

  • 1 6 oz. salmon fillet
  • 1/4 lb. penne pasta
  • About thirty fresh peas
  • Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 lemon
  • finely-chopped chives
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Start two pots of water, one larger than the other. Salt both pots of water. Crush the clove under a knife. Peel the carrot, and chop it into about 1″ pieces. Also chop the celery into 1″ pieces. Add the juice of half the lemon, garlic, bay leaf, celery, carrot, and chives into the smaller pot.

When the bots are both at a nice boil, add the pasta to the larger pot and the salmon to the smaller pot. Depending on the size of the pot you’re using to poach, you may need to slice the fillet in half down the middle. Cook both for about ten minutes, stirring the pasta constantly, until the pasta is al dente and the salmon is pink and firm. Drain the pasta, dress with the olive oil and the raw peas. Toss and grate the cheese on the pasta.

Remove the salmon from the poach with a slotted spoon or a fry spider, when it’s just firm all the way through. Place atop of the pasta, sprinkle with salt and pepper and dress with lemon juice to taste. Serve immediately.

You will discard the vegetables from the poach, unless you want to save the poach water for stock. You’ll get a nice, interesting flavor from the flavors in the poach, but it won’t be very spicy. Salmon is famous for not taking a sautée or a grill well because like all fish it’s a bit delicate, but also because it is rich in albumen, the same protein found in egg whites, which can create an unappetizing goo on the outside of your fish before serving as the meat expands under heat if you handle it improperly. Poaching will remove that, and your salmon should come out a nice light pink, with the bright green chives accenting it.

It occurs to me that you’d want to serve a salad first so there’s a vegetable. It also occurs to me that the dual cooking for the pasta and the fish provides a nice opportunity for a couple, say a couple on a dinner date at one of their homes, to cook together as they share a bottle of wine, talk about the food, and stand in proximity to one another. So, maybe that’s a nice date meal for all you single Readers out there, particularly if your date is averse to strong spices.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.


  1. I don’t think Americans put seafood and pasta together often enough. Oh sure, there’s the common shrimp and pasta and occassionally scallops, but that ignores the more intense flavors (IMO) that you get from adding fish. The natural tendency for it to break up as you eat it means every single bite gets infused with seafood. I’ve long been a fan of adding fish to pasta and I also agree that penne is the best choice.

    One thing I would add though is that I prefer a slightly creamier sauce with seafood. I usually do a tomato-cream or pesto-cream sauce.

    Recipe sounds delicious Burt. Another one for me to try out at home.

    • If you want a cream sauce with this, it’ll bump up the calories and fat but yeah, it’ll taste good. Infuse two ounces of cow’s milk with fresh dill for about six hours, then combine with another two ounces of sour cream. Finely dice a small amount of raw cucumber into it, add some cayenne pepper and salt. Maybe garnish the top with another sprig of fresh dill for presentation. Allow to come to room temperature before serving on the warm fish, or reserve for when you serve the dish cold.

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