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Poached Wild Striped Bass, Tarragon Butter Sauce and Spring Vegetables

You’d think that someone who’s had lots of experience poaching eggs and featuring them on this here food blog thingy would be able to make a logical leap to poached chicken or fish. Apparently not. That being said, there’s always a first time for everything.

Poaching is such a wonderfully easy and uncomplicated method for cooking fish. It helps to preserve moisture and adds depth of flavor without contributing much in the way of fat, although you may find it in your interest to serve fish prepared in this manner with a sauce of some kind.

An added bonus is that you can have a satisfying and delicious meal prepared in less time than it took to properly compose this post.

Poached wild striped bass, tarragon butter sauce and spring vegetables
Poached wild striped bass, tarragon butter sauce, spring vegetables

1 fillet wild striped bass
kosher salt
fish stock OR a combination of stock, water and dry white wine
2-3 parsley sprigs
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
8 baby carrots, peeled and trimmed
1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed
1/4 cup gold cippolini onions, peeled and trimmed, then cut in half
freshly milled black pepper
juice of half a lemon
a small handful of chopped parsley

For the fish:

Lay bass fillet across a plate. Lightly season with kosher salt. Set aside.

Fill a large skillet with enough fish stock (or some combination in proportions you choose of fish stock, water and white wine) to come roughly halfway up the fish fillet. Toss in the parsley sprigs. Bring this to a boil, then reduce heat to a low setting. The liquid should be barely simmering by this point. The heat should remain constant but not high enough that the poaching liquid reaches a boil. Lay the bass fillet in the skillet. Cook for 3-4 minutes, then gently turn the fillet over and cook the other side for 3-4 minutes. Remove fillet from the pan and place on a warmed serving plate while you prepare the sauce.

Turn the heat up to medium-high and bring the poaching liquid to a roiling boil. Reduce the poaching liquid to half its volume, about 10 minutes. Keep in mind that reduction will concentrate the flavor of the resulting sauce. Whisk in two tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits. Stir in tarragon. Reduce until the sauce reaches a slightly emulsified consistency; it’s done when it lightly coats the back of a wooden spoon. Taste for salt and pepper. Spoon a few tablespoons over the fish fillet and serve at once, passing the remaining sauce at the table.

For the spring vegetables:

Fill a large bowl full of ice water. Set aside.

Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add carrots, green beans and cippolini onions. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, until vegetables are crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes. Drain, then plunge vegetables into the bowl of ice water. This will halt the cooking process and preserve the color. Drain the bowl.

Melt the remaining tablespoon of unsalted butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the vegetables to the pan. Gently sauté the vegetables until they’re warmed through, about 1-2 minutes. Vegetables should be coated with the melted butter and have a light sheen to them. Taste for salt and pepper, then stir in the juice of half a lemon and some chopped parsley. Remove from heat and serve along with the poached bass and tarragon butter sauce.

Time: About 45 minutes for everything, including prep.

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