By Angela Bell
Poaching is the preferred method used by professionals to cook to perfection what has commonly come to be known as center of the plate proteins, more specifically those with delicate flesh such as salt or fresh water fin fish.
The classical poaching method as taught for centuries by culinary educators requires the fish to be submerged in an acidic poaching liquid infused with aromatics and cooked at temperatures just under a slow simmer, bathing it in liquid, rendering it tender, juicy and highly flavorful while the low heat cooks it to the perfect point.
A classical fumet or court bouillon, both water-based poaching liquids, impart the flavor of the aromatics and moisture to the interior flesh of the fish, but substitute olive oil as the poaching medium and the flavor is taken to a whole new level.
Not only does the flavor of the olive oil itself add another dimension to the flesh, but unlike traditional poaching liquid, the viscosity of olive oil is such that when the fish is removed, along with it comes a shimmering coat of oil which stays on the flesh as the fish is transferred to the serving plate.
For that reason you must choose olive oil for this application that has a favorable flavor for your palate. Any fin fish can be cooked in this manner, but I prefer the meatier types such as swordfish, halibut, salmon, or my favorite by far, the blue marlin for its firmness and mild flavor.
Olive Oil Poached Blue Marlin
Yield : 4 servings Preparation Time : 10 minutes Cooking Time: 15 to 20 minutes
extra virgin olive oil
4 to 6 oz blue marlin steaks, 1 ½ to 2 inches thick
2 chili peppers
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon whole black pepper corns
2 sprigs thyme
3 bay leaves
Rinse the marlin steaks and pat dry. In a brazier, heat enough oil to completely cover the steaks. Add all of the ingredients (aromatics) except for the fish. Bring the oil to a simmer and let it heat the aromatics until the aroma is strong. Lay in the steaks and bring the oil back to a very slow simmer. Transfer the pan to an oven and roast uncovered at 180 to 200 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending on thickness of the marlin steak so be sure to check half way through. The fish should be cooked to medium pink in the center.