The Washington Post

Cold Poached Salmon With Lemon-Tarragon Dressing

Cold Poached Salmon With Lemon-Tarragon Dressing 10.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post; tableware from Crate and Barrel

Apr 4, 2012

The goal is to cook this fish to a medium doneness (uniformly light pink) so that its carryover cooking leaves it just a touch pink after cooling. Leave the skin on the salmon before poaching; it helps the fish hold together during cooking and is easy enough to remove before serving.

Make Ahead: The salmon needs to be poached and refrigerated at least 4 hours and up to a day in advance. The dressing can be made a day in advance.

Servings: 10 - 12
  • For the salmon
  • 4 pounds skin-on salmon fillets, preferably center-cut, in 2 large pieces
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for the poaching liquid
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, plus more for the poaching liquid
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 6 cups cold water
  • 2 shallots (2 to 2 1/2 ounces total), cut into thin slices
  • Leaves from 1 small bunch (0.75 ounces; 1 clamshell pack) fresh tarragon, chopped (3 tablespoons)
  • For the dressing
  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • Finely grated zest and freshly squeezed juice of 1 lemon (1 tablespoon zest, 1/4 cup juice), plus 1 lemon cut into thin wheels for optional garnish
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/4 cup water, or more as needed
  • 1 large shallot (3 to 3 1/2 ounces), cut into small dice (about 1/4 cup)
  • Leaves from 1 small bunch (0.75 ounces; 1 clamshell pack) fresh tarragon, chopped (3 tablespoons)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


For the salmon: Sprinkle the salmon generously and evenly with salt and pepper.

Pour the wine and water into a large, wide pot. Stir in the shallot, tarragon and 1 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Heat over medium-high heat.

Once the poaching liquid is barely bubbling at the edges, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 5 minutes until the shallots become tender. Gently lower one of the salmon pieces, skin side down, into the poaching liquid. Cook uncovered for about 4 minutes, or until the salmon is mostly cooked through. It should have just a little given when lightly pressed (or check by prying open a thicker piece with the tip of a paring knife; the interior should have just a little of that bright-orange, glossy sheen). Transfer to a large rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining salmon. Let the salmon cool to room temperature. Discard the poaching liquid, reserving some of the drained shallot rings and tarragon to scatter over the salmon, if desired. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 1 day in advance.

For the dressing: Combine the creme fraiche with the half of the lemon juice, plus the lemon zest, mustard and water in a blender or food processor; blend so the mixture becomes slightly loose; adding water as needed; the sauce should be barely pourable. Transfer to a medium bowl and stir in the shallot, tarragon and salt and pepper. Taste, then add as much of the remaining lemon juice as you'd like; adjust seasoning as needed.

When ready to serve, discard the skin from the chilled salmon fillets. If necessary, use a spoon to scrape off any dark bloodlines.

If desired, arrange the lemon wheels (slices) across a serving platter. Top with the chilled salmon fillets, skinned sides down. Serve drizzled with the creme fraiche dressing.

Recipe Source

From food writer Tony Rosenfeld.

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving (based on 12): 300

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 18g 28%

Saturated Fat: 7g 35%

Cholesterol: 100mg 33%

Sodium: 290mg 12%

Total Carbohydrates: 3g 1%

Dietary Fiber: 0g 0%

Sugar: 0g

Protein: 31g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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