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Poached Whole Salmon with Basil Mayonnaise

Makes: 8  servings Prep 30 mins Cook 1 hr


  • 8 fresh thyme sprigs (or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried)
  • 1 large bunch fresh parsley
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced
  • 8 cups  water
  • 1 tablespoon  salt
  • 3 cups  white wine
  • 14 whole black peppercorns, crushed (optional)
  • 1 whole salmon (5 to 5-1/2 lbs.), head removed
  • 2/3 cup  mayonnaise
  • 2/3 cup  sour cream
  • 1/2 cup  chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon  plus 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 2 teaspoons  fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons  chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons  milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon  freshly ground pepper
  • Lemon wedges, fresh mint, and thyme sprigs, for garnish


Make vegetable broth::

1. Combine thyme, parsley, and bay leaves in a piece of cheesecloth; tie ends of cheesecloth with kitchen string. Combine cheesecloth bundle, onion, carrots, celery, water, and 1 tablespoon salt in a 4-quart pot. Cover and bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer gently, partially covered, 20 minutes. Add wine, simmer 10 minutes, then add peppercorns, if desired, and simmer 5 minutes more.

2. Strain broth into an 11-quart fish poacher* on the stovetop over two burners. Arrange salmon in poacher, then add 15 cups cold water to cover the fish. Cover and bring liquid to a boil over high heat (this will take 20 to 25 minutes). When the liquid begins to boil, uncover and reduce heat to medium-low to maintain a gentle simmer. Check the salmon for doneness after 10 to 15 minutes. Gently lift the poaching rack and insert an instant-read thermometer into the backbone, next to the center of the fish. (It's best to get someone to help with this, but if there is no one around, set the rack with the salmon on a cutting board.) The temperature should register 132 degrees F. (If you don't have a thermometer, insert a small paring knife along the backbone and peek in -- the flesh should separate easily from the bone and should be pink instead of translucent red.)

3. For the basil mayonnaise, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, basil, lemon peel, lemon juice, shallots, milk, 1/4 teaspoon salt and ground pepper in a medium bowl. .

4. Remove salmon from poaching liquid, and carefully transfer using 2 large spatulas to a large serving platter. With a small knife, peel off the top skin, then gently turn the fish over and repeat. Cool. Garnish salmon with lemon wedges, mint, and thyme sprigs, if desired. Serve with basil mayonnaise. Makes 8 servings.


5. Fish poachers are available in gourmet or specialty shops.


  • Fish poachers are available in gourmet or specialty shops.


  • Peel the skin off the salmon while it's still warm, and it will come off easily.

Nutrition Facts

  • Servings Per Recipe 8
  • cal.(kcal)370,
  • Fat, total(g)30,
  • chol.(mg)81,
  • sat. fat(g)7,
  • carb.(g)2,
  • pro.(g)22,
  • sodium(mg)250,
  • Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet