Poached Cod With Dill Sauce

How about an easy recipe that tastes phenomenal, looks elegant and is relatively healthy? I’ve got a winner for you!

We have this dish at least twice a month.You can use any firm white fish that you like and can adjust the flavor of the poaching liquid to suit your taste. You can also make this on the stove top or in the oven, whichever works better at the time.

Poaching is when you cook something in a gently simmering liquid. It’s an especially successful method for cooking delicate food, such as fish, chicken, or eggs.

This dish is poached in evaporated milk flavored with white wine, onions, garlic, parsley, bay leaf and Old Bay seasoning. Using an aromatic poaching liquid gently cooks the fish and infuses it with flavor and moisture. Fish has a tendency to overcook, but this way, it’s pretty hard to mess it up. When the fish is cooked, you use the same poaching liquid to make a creamy, velvety sauce with fresh dill. Absolutely wonderful on so many levels! Easy, delicious, and beautiful too:). 

Season the fish with salt and pepper. You can use any firm white fish – tilapia, haddock, snapper, grouper, etc. Layer the onions on the bottom of the skillet. Add the crushed garlic cloves, fresh parsley leaves, white wine, dry bay leaf and peppercorns. Nestle the fish on top. Pour the evaporated milk over the fish.

Why am I using evaporated milk?

Evaporated milk is a shelf stable, canned milk that has 60% of the water removed by cooking it down. That’s why it has a slightly sweet taste and has a darker color than regular milk. Evaporated milk is heavier than milk but has a lower fat content than heavy cream or half n half. It also doesn’t curdle when you cook it, so it’s perfect to use in this recipe. It also has a really silky texture which is great to make the velvety dill sauce.

It should cover the fish almost completely. It’s ok if the fish is peaking out a little bit, but the idea is for the fish to poach in this flavorful liquid. Sprinkle the Old Bay seasoning and add some salt and pepper to taste to the evaporated milk.   Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Keep the skillet covered and cook on low heat until the fish is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes. If the poaching liquid doesn’t completely cover the fish, spoon some of it over the fish once in a while.

The best way to check for the doneness of fish is to poke it in the thickest part with a fork and gently twist. It should easily flake.

You can make this dish in the oven too. Isn’t that great? Arrange all the ingredients in a deep baking dish the same way you would in a skillet. Or place the fish on the bottom and everything else on top:). This recipe isn’t too particular. (By the way, if you’re using the oven, and the baking dish has more surface area than the skillet would, add more evaporated milk.) Cover with aluminum foil and place in a preheated 400 degree oven. Bake for 20-30 minutes until the fish easily flakes with a fork but isn’t falling apart. It takes longer to cook in the oven because it takes more time for the liquid to come to a simmer. Be careful not to have the fish fall apart. Check it often after the liquid starts to simmer.

Many times I serve the fish just the way it is, with some mashed potatoes, rice or couscous. Use a slotted spoon to gently take out the fish and spoon some of the delicious liquid over it.

However, when I have an extra 5 minutes, I make this amazing, velvety dill sauce to accompany it. Fresh dill pairs so well with fish. I already have a great head start to a delicious, aromatic liquid that the fish was poaching in, so I use it to make the sauce.

Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve and set is aside. In a skillet or small saucepan, melt butter and add the flour to it. Whisk the flour until it’s completely incorporated into the butter and starts to turn just a little bit golden. This helps to cook out the rawness of the flour. Pour in a splash of white wine, whisking as you add it. Add the reserved poaching liquid. Cook for about 3 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Add fresh minced dill and pour over the fish.

My favorite way to serve this dinner is with Rice Pilaf and Garlicky Green Beans.

Poached Cod With Dill Sauce
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 lb cod or any other firm white fish (snapper, tilapia, haddock, grouper)
  • 1 onion, sliced into half circles
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3-5 parsley leaves
  • 1-2 dry bay leaves
  • 3-5 peppercorns
  • 4 Tablespoons white wine, plus 1-2 Tablespoons more for the sauce
  • 1 can (14 oz) evaporated milk
  • ½ - 1 teaspoon Old bay seasoning
  • salt, pepper, to taste
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • ½ Tablespoon fresh dill, minced
Instructions
  1. Season the fish with salt and pepper.
  2. Layer the onions on the bottom of the skillet.
  3. Add the crushed garlic cloves, fresh parsley leaves, white wine, dry bay leaf and peppercorns.
  4. Nestle the fish on top.
  5. Pour the evaporated milk over the fish. It should cover the fish almost completely.
  6. Sprinkle the Old Bay seasoning and add some salt and pepper to taste to the evaporated milk.
  7. Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Keep the skillet covered and cook on low heat until the fish is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes.
  8. You can make this dish in the oven too.
  9. Arrange all the ingredients in a deep baking dish the same way you would in a skillet, or put the fish on the bottom and everything else on top.
  10. Cover with aluminum foil and place in a preheated 400 degree oven.
  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the fish easily flakes with a fork but isn't falling apart.
  12. Use a slotted spoon to gently take out the fish and spoon some of the delicious liquid over it.
  13. OR
  14. Strain the liquid through a fine mesh sieve and set is aside.
  15. In a skillet or small saucepan, melt butter and add the flour to it.
  16. Cook the flour until it's completely incorporated into the butter and starts to turn just a little bit golden.
  17. Pour in the white wine, whisking as you add it. Add the reserved poaching liquid. Cook for about 3 minutes, until the sauce thickens.
  18. Add fresh minced dill and pour over the fish.

 
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Comments

  1. Nadia says

    Thanks for the late reply. Also,will tilapia be ok to use for this recipe? Again thanks your site is awesome, I have so many bookmarks of different recipes I want to make :)

  2. says

    This is a great idea Olga. I’m just wondering if using the evaporated milk made it taste slightly sweet or did the sourness of the wine counter act this. Looks great.

    • says

      It will have a note of sweetness, David, but the wine, salt, pepper and Old Bay seasoning, herbs, onion, etc. give it a savory taste. Hope you like it.

  3. Kane says

    I made this dish for a gathering of friends and it was a hit, they couldn’t get enough of it, I used smoked cod and presented the dish on a bed of couscous. I will be making it again tonight for dinner. Thank you Olga :)

  4. Alesia says

    I was just wondering, if I can use coconut milk instead of the evaporated milk?
    Thanks :)
    -Alesia

    • says

      Hi ALesia!
      I’ve never tried it with coconut milk, so I can’t really say one way or another. If you try it, let me know what you think:).

  5. Ella says

    Olga, I was wondering if I could substitute evaporated milk with half and half mixed with whole milk or a bit of water?

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