Poached Salmon (in Olive Oil) with East-Indian Spices

Chinook Salmon

Chinook Salmon

By Cat, May 2014 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

Includes: 1. Poached Salmon (in Olive Oil) with East-Indian Spices; See also: 1. Spices; 2. Cooking White Rice

When wild salmon is in season, I eat it twice a week. So I’m always looking for new ways to prepare it. This recipe has been on my ‘try’ list for some time, and I decided I want to try it tonite, so I’m adapting it here.

Wild salmon is a very healthful fish, providing good Omega-3 fats, and generally not contaminated with heavy metals like mercury – provided it is wild-caught. Its pink color indicates the presence of the anti-oxidant carotenoids astaxanthin and canthaxanthin (from their diet of krill and other tiny shellfish).

I’d like to try poaching in something other than oil, mainly because real olive oil is quite expensive (much commercial olive oil is diluted with unhealthful oils like corn, soy and canola. Your only safe bet is Organic olive oil, or olive oil from specialty orchards in California). The problem I can see with using water or fish stock for poaching is that the flavor of the wonderful spices might be lost. Coconut milk might be a better option, because of its high fat content (see Rebecca Wood’s recipe for Five-Minute Curried Salmon (2).

Poached Salmon with Indian Spices

This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking (1), originally by Molly Stevens.

The original serves 4; I’ve adapted this for 1 but you can easily multiply the ingredients for more servings.

Ingredients & Equipment

  • 1 small clove garlic
  • Unrefined sea salt
  • ¼ tsp garam masala (see Spices in the Diet & Health section of my website for more about this curry spice, and how to make your own)
  • ¼ tsp cumin seed, toasted & ground
  • ¼ tsp coriander seed, toasted & ground
  • pinch cayenne
  • 1 – 1 ½ cups olive oil
  • 1 center-cut salmon fillet, ¾” – 1″ thick (6 –  7 oz), skin removed
  • 1 lemon or lime wedges
  • cast iron skillet
  • small bowl
  • pancake turner
  • cooling rack and baking sheet with sides (like a jelly-roll pan)


  1. Toast the seeds in a hot cast iron skillet until fragrant. Remove from heat and allow to cool before grinding. I use my Revel electric spice grinder from India to grind the seeds.
  2. While seeds cool, remove skin from the salmon. Arrange a rack over a baking sheet with sides.
  3. Remove peel from clove of garlic. Mince the garlic, then sprinkle a pinch of salt over and crush with the side of a wide knife blade. Scrape into a small bowl, then add the spices and toasted & ground seeds, plus ¼ tsp unrefined sea salt. Add just enough of the olive oil to turn the spice mixture into a smooth paste, about ¼ – ¼ tsp.
  4. Rub this mix all over the salmon; let rest at room temperature 1 hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 225°F.
  6. Measure depth of  fillet, then add oil to the skillet, to the same depth. Heat oil over low heat to 120°F, about 2 – 3 minutes.
  7. Place fillet into the oil; if poaching more than one, keep them in a single layer. Then transfer pan to oven without delay.
  8. Poach until a few small whitish droplets rise to the surface of the fish, 20 – 25 minutes.
  9. Remove salmon from oil and place on the rack to drain for a few minutes.
  10. Serve warm, with lemon or lime wedge, and cooked White Rice (such as basamati or Jasmin rice).


  1. Fine Cooking recipe, originally by Molly Stevens (finecooking.com/recipes/olive-oil-poached-salmon-indian-spices.aspx)
  2. Rebecca Wood recipe (rebeccawood.com/recipes/five-minute-curried-salmon)

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