Two notes about this dish:
1) Poaching fish in olive oil is new to me; and
2) The lemon-butter sauce is based on the butter sauce recipe in The Silver Spoon.
I’ve used poaching as a cooking method before but not with oil. It’s usually with water or broth, and poaching is not really my favorite cooking method for fish. But poaching in olive oil means slow cooking the fish at low temperature and allowing it to soak up olive oil which is supposed to be healthy. I mean, we drizzle the stuff all over our salad; why not let the fish bath in it?
So, I poached a whole alumahan (Rastrelliger brachysoma), a type of mackerel and a rather dry fish, in olive (not extra virgin) oil. Good decision, I must say, because the rather dry flesh of the alumahan was moist and oily by the time it was cooked.
To cook the fish, pat it dry, score and rub with salt. Heat enough olive oil to reach a depth of about an inch and a half. Cook the fish at a temperature between 160F to 180F. That means the oil shouldn’t be allowed to reach smoking point. A cooking thermometer would be useful; I have none so I just eyeballed my way through the poaching. It took about 20 minutes to cook the fish at 10 minutes per side. The cooking time will naturally vary depending on the size of the fish.
After turning the fish over, I started making the lemon-butter sauce.
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 4 cloves garlic smashed
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- salt to taste
- pepper to taste
- lemon juice to taste
- lemon slices to garnish
- roughly chopped mint leaves
In a small non-reactive pan, heat the white wine vinegar with the garlic very gently over low heat for about a minute. Leave to infuse for a few minutes. Strain.
Stir together the melted butter and strained white wine vinegar. Squeeze in the juice of a quarter or half a lemon.
Season with salt and pepper. Taste. Adjust the amount of lemon juice, salt, pepper or all of them, if needed.
To assemble the dish: Lay the poached fish on a serving platter. Drizzle sauce over the enter firsh. Arrange the olive slices on top of the fish. Sprinkle with mint leaves. Serve.