The Poached Fish Dish

Poached sole is a really quick and fail safe way to cook the fish. Serve it plain or fancy it up with a caper butter sauce.


The Poached Fish Dish

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Yesterday, I mentioned poached fish as one of the things that you can eat today and feel great tomorrow. You can check out the full list here.

You don’t hear much about poaching fish. In fact, when you hear about poaching most people probably think about eggs and brunch, but poaching is one of my favorite ways to cook fish. It keeps it light, only takes a few minutes, and you end up with this:

The idea behind poaching is very simple. Take a large skillet and add a few cups of water and/or wine and various flavorful additions. Then you bring that liquid to a slight simmer and put in whatever kind of fish you are poaching.

Simple Poached Sole

Poached sole is a really quick and fail safe way to cook the fish. Serve it plain or fancy it up with a caper butter sauce.
4.78 from 9 votes
Prep Time 25 mins
Total Time 35 mins
Course Main Dishes
Servings 4 Servings
Yield 4 Small Filets



  • 2 halved shallots
  • 2 halved garlic cloves
  • 30 to 40 whole peppercorns
  • 6 to 8 sprigs of parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 lemon
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 2 large sole filets or 4 smaller filets

Lemon Caper Sauce:

  • ¼ cup unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  • Add shallots, garlic, peppercorns, parsley, and bay leaf to a large skillet. Add lemon juice and lemon, white wine, and enough water to come about 2 inches up the pan.
  • Bring the skillet to a simmer over medium-high heat.
  • Turn heat down to low. Add sole filets and let them poach in the liquid for about 4 minutes per side.
  • In a small bowl, combine butter, lemon juice, and capers and microwave for 2 minutes on low.
  • Transfer fish using a spatula straight to plate from the poaching liquid. Serve fish with a carb of your choosing and the caper butter sauce.


Serving: 1Small FiletCalories: 446kcalCarbohydrates: 6gProtein: 57gFat: 20gSaturated Fat: 9gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 233mgSodium: 483mgPotassium: 844mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 647IUVitamin C: 20mgCalcium: 121mgIron: 2mg
Keyword Fish Recipes, How to Poach Fish, Poached Fish, Simple Poached Sole

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But let’s start with those flavorful additions. Add these things to your largest skillet:

These ingredients are pretty flexible. If you don’t have shallots, you can use 1/4 cup of any onion. If you don’t have parsley, you can use cilantro or just leave it out although it does lend good flavor. The peppercorns and garlic are pretty essential.

These make water yummy.
These make water yummy.

Then add the juice from a whole lemon. After you juice it throw in the lemon itself, cut up. If you have some white wine around, add 1/2 cup of it and then fill the skillet with water until it is about 1.5-2 inches deep. You want the liquid to just cover your fish ultimately.

I didn’t have any white wine around so I left it out. My dish was still excellent.

Adding some lemon and water.
Adding some lemon and water.

Put your skillet on medium heat and bring the liquid to a boil.

This would rip a fish apart.
This would rip a fish apart.

Now that it is boiling turn your burner down to low. You want the water to barely be bubbling at all. If you put your fish it while it is boiling the bubbles will tear your fish apart and you will end up with some sort of weird fish mush soup. Not good food.

These were only like 7 bucks.
These were only like 7 bucks.

I used two fillets of sole for this meal because they are very light and take up flavor easily. They are also pretty economical.

Looks bland. Tastes awesome.
Looks bland. Tastes awesome.

These do not take a long time to cook. I put my fish in for about 4 minutes and then carefully turned them to make sure they were even on both sides. A few minutes on the other side and you are done.

While they are cooking, if you want, put together three tablespoons of butter, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, and 2 tablespoons of capers. Microwave that on low for a 2 minutes or until the butter is melted and you have a simple caper butter sauce.

Capers are so freakin' good.
Capers are so freakin good

Using a spatula, transfer your fish straight to your plate. Don’t worry about any extra liquid. It is just a little flavor – it won’t kill you. One thing to check for though is that you don’t have any lingering peppercorns stuck to the fish. Turns out that capers and peppercorns look quite similar and it can be a bit shocking to bite into a corn. Trust me. I know.

Um. Yum.
Um. Yum.

I would recommend serving the fish with a light carb. I chose couscous, but rice would also be cool. Steamed carrots rounded out my dinner.

4 Responses to “The Poached Fish Dish” Leave a comment

  1. Um mmm. I've ordered capers for my last meal. I once saw them growing, the plant cascading down a rock wall, in Fiesole above Florence, where I spent a week at Giuliano Bugliali's cooking school.

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