Even an American Idiot can learn there’s more than one method to poaching salmon. I’ve come to the realization that neither MTV nor Food TV are doing their jobs these days. MTV doesn’t play much music, and Food TV doesn’t teach anyone to cook.

I’ll accept the challenge that’s been ignored by both media outlets. I’ll use their leftovers, their scraps, their b-sides to create a new and exciting combination of cooking and music. It’s my Food iPod.

Green Day is cranked in my ears, and gas is blazing on the stove to explore two ways to use dry and moist cooking methods on delicate fish.

Poaching Salmon is an excellent cooking method because of the delicate nature of fish. When you cook items in softly simmering liquid, it’s considered poaching. The advantage of this type of cooking is that you can add flavor and retain moisture without a delicate product toughening from over cooking.

However, there’s a big difference between boil, simmer and poach. Most people mistakenly believe that anything cooked in liquid should be at a violent, rapid boil. This is no more true than cooking anything in your oven at 500 degrees Fahrenheit. There are temperatures in your oven below 500, and there are temperatures of liquid below violent boil.

Actually, “boil” is not a cooking method. Not in my kitchen anyway. Nothing should be boiled in the kitchen. Boil is 212F/100C and breaks up delicate items with its violent motion. It should be avoided for everything other than assuring your water is safe after a disaster.

“Simmer” uses temperatures lower than boil, at 180F/82C and has soft bubbles around the outer edges of your pan. Most items in the kitchen are simmered, not boiled.

“Poach” uses temperatures even lower than that, at 165F/71C and is the best way to cook fish and vegetables because of the relatively low temperature that prevents over-toughening, and the delicate nature of a cooking liquid that shows no bubbles, and barely a motion to it.

The down-side of poaching salmon is that the cooking liquid will never reach the 320F/160C temperature necessary to “caramelize sugars”, giving an attractive eye-appeal and crunchy crust to the fish.

We can over-come this drawback, and still take advantage of the benefits of poaching salmon in liquid to retain moisture. This is done with a combination cooking method. A piece of salmon can be sautéed first in a very hot, dry pan to add color and visual appeal. Then, you can add hot liquid to the pan and continue the process that gives more moisture and flavor.

There’s more than one method to consider when poaching salmon, like there’s more bands than Green Day on my iPod. I have a choice in food and music. One method will give greater moisture, but less color and texture. The other method will give great eye-appeal, but you’ll sacrifice some of the moisture with a dry cooking process.

See the Poaching Salmon Two Ways video

Author's Bio: 

Chef Todd Mohr is a classically trained chef, entrepreneur, cooking educator and founder of WebCookingClasses. You CAN learn to cook without written recipes by taking his FREE cooking class that will change the way you think about cooking forever!