Basic Poached Salmon | Cook for Your Life

Basic Poached Salmon

Rated 4.8 out of 5
4.8 out of 5 stars (based on 9 reviews)

Clock Icon for Prep Time 20 min prep
Person Icon for Serving Size 6 servings
Carrot Icon for Number of Ingredients Size 10 ingredients

This basic poached salmon is one of the simplest ways to cook an oily fish like salmon, especially if you want to eat something light during the holidays, or something cold during the heat of...



  • 1 small onion, peeled and halved
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 1 inch slice of lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large carrot, thickly sliced
  • 1 stick celery or 2 fennel branches, stripped of their leaves
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste
  • 4 to 6 cups water
  • 1 fillet of salmon (about 2 ½ pounds), skin on, bones removed, rinsed and patted dry
Missing an Ingredient?
Visit our ingredient substitution guide ›

Nutrition Facts


150 cals


9 g

Saturated Fat

2 g

Polyunsaturated Fat

3 g

Monounsaturated Fat

3 g


3 g


1 g


1 g


14 g


375 mg


  1. Stick the onion halves with the cloves, 2 per half. In a wide sauté pan add the lemon peel, peppercorns, bay leaf, sea salt and all the vegetables, plus enough water to just cover it all. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, turn the heat down to low and simmer until the vegetables begin to soften, about 20 minutes.
  2. When the vegetables are cooked, bring the stock back to a gentle boil. Place the salmon skin-side down on top of the vegetables and cover the pan tightly with a lid or foil so that no steam can escape. Turn off the heat.
  3. Move the pan to the back of the stove and leave the salmon to steam for 8-10 minutes per inch of thickness, or until it has completely cooled. If you are poaching a whole fillet, check after 15 minutes. Don’t open the lid before then -- you will let out all the steam and stop the cooking.
  4. When the salmon is ready, gently lift it off the vegetables skin-side down with a plate or cutting board large enough to hold it in one piece. Take care not to break it. Cover with a 2nd disposable board or a plate big enough to cover it. Carefully flip it over. Remove the skin. Cover with the plate again. Carefully flip it back to right side up. Slide it onto a serving plate, trim, decorate and serve. Try it with our Roasted Broccoli recipe, or with our Vegetable "Dirty Rice".

Chef Tips

When you flip the salmon in step 4, especially if it’s a whole salmon fillet, I find flexible plastic cutting boards by far the easiest thing to use.

A correctly sized portion is around 3 to 4-ounces, about the size of a pack of cards, so go for quality rather than quantity.

Registered Dietitian Approved

Our recipes, articles, and videos are reviewed by our oncology-trained dietitians to ensure that each is backed with scientific evidence and follows the guidelines set by the Oncology Nutrition for Clinical Practice, 2nd Ed., published by the Oncology Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group, a professional interest group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society

This site is registered on as a development site. Switch to a production site key to remove this banner.