Walleye Poached in White Wine

Makes 6 servings

This is a novel way to poach filets of fish. The recipe’s keys are two: a super-low simmer and an unholy amount of dry white wine. Unlike other poaching methods that use slightly more boisterous heat, the result is an excruciatingly tender filet. It’s like pudding with gills.

Because most white wine is high in acidity, it’s wise to avoid using cast iron for this preparation. Also, many other types of fish lend themselves to this poach: salmon especially; halibut, snapper, mahi-mahi; and coho.

Bring a bottle (or more, depending on how much fish you will cook) of dry white wine to a soft boil in a large flat pan or skillet; lower heat to a bare simmer and add a good pinch of salt and a few grindings of black pepper. Add 6 walleye filets, about 1/2 pound apiece, at room temperature; cook through, until the fish is opaque, never allowing the liquid to boil above a very low, bare simmer, about 15-20 minutes. Gently lift the filets with a slotted spatula and serve.

An exotic take: Before adding the wine, in the dry pan, toast until fragrant 2 teaspoons coriander seeds and a short length of cinnamon stick; remove and set aside. Sauté a tablespoon of garlic-ginger paste (available at Indian markets) in a tablespoon of oil or ghee, add back the toasted spices and proceed as above.

Put to bed: Place the finished filets on a bed of mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, mashed cauliflower or sautéed green leafy vegetables. Reduce 1/2 cup of the poaching liquid to 1/4 cup and spoon a bit of the sauce on each filet and its bed.

Note: If you’d rather not use up your white wine stores - or if you shun alcohol for personal or religious reasons - the walleye also may be poached in exactly the same manner in a medium of slowly simmering olive oil. No need to use flavorful extra virgin olive oil here; any good quality “pure” olive oil will do nicely.

~ Bill St. John