Cooking food either partially or completely covered by a liquid which is brought to, and maintained at a temperature just below boiling point.
Poaching is an effective way of cooking foods for either hot or cold service.
Not only does it produce healthy food but it enhances flavour. It can, however, require considerable skill and judgement, particularly with complex shallow poached fish dishes.
Some dishes described as poached are strictly speaking a mixture of boiling & poaching for example a whole poached salmon.
The main reasons why foods are poached are because:
- it is a fast method of cooking tender food
- food is moved as little as possible and does not break up or fall apart
- poaching liquid can contribute to taste and make good bases for sauces
- keeps flavour of food well and does not add fats/oils
1) Deep Poaching - involves covering the food with cooking liquor, and is usually carried out on top of the stove at 96°c.
2) Shallow Poaching - is where the food is partially covered with cooking liquid. The process is usually started on top of the stove and continued in the oven. The liquid usually comes two thirds of the way up the food. The food is usually covered by a "cartouche" and often with a lid as well.
In shallow poaching the liquid is normally used to form the basis of the sauce.
Various equipment can be used to poach foods:
Fish Kettles - specially designed for processing whole fish - tight fitting lids - containing a perforated drainer with handles - made from stainless steel, aluminium or tin-lined copper.
Round or oval frying pans, "sauteuse" and "plats á sauter" - used for shallow poaching - made from fireproof china, tin-lined copper, enamelled cast iron.
Food is easily digestible when poached
Skill is required when poaching food
For many foods it is not a suitable method
Examples of foods which you might choose to cook by poaching:
Fruits fresh and dried