An almost perfect day with poached salmon and Béarnaise sauce

I can cook, I can watch football, later I can watch NFL, I can drink craft beer from the Rizmajer Brewery – and while doing this, I can play different board games with my daughter.

What else do you need? Well, if ManUtd had played today, that would have made this day perfect – but let this be enough for a single Sunday.

The menu is Premier League with Newcastle-Arsenal and Chelsea-Liverpool, and NFL with the Baltimore Ravens fighting for a play-off place. And although the Hungarian channel that airs the NFL matches shows three matches but not the Ravens one – it will be a very good evening to follow.

And although this post is not a Cook&Watch post – I did cook something. My first meeting with salmon and poaching.

Sometime around the kick-off at the Arsenal match I took the salmon steaks from the fridge and started to prepare them for poaching. I used my wok for this as I don’t have a big enough skillet to hold all those three steaks. So I put one litre of water into it and brought it to the boil – only to realize that I forgot the seasoning. Unfortunately I didn’t have vegetable stock at home, so I had to buy vegetable stock cubes from the Tesco – but that did the job, too.

saucepan in work
Saucepan in work for Béarnaise sauce

Anyway, while reading the recipe I thought that I should make the sauce while the salmon steaks are being poached – so I melted a half cup of butter in the microwave, and put that aside. Then I minced a little white onion and poured the wine, the vinegar, the onion,  half of the Tarragon, half of the pepper into a saucepan and cooked them until the liquid was reduced by something like the half of it. Then I set that aside, too, right next to the butter, if you want to know.

(Just to tell you, the match wasn’t that really interesting. But I tend to feel that nowadays if it’s soccer on telly and no ManUtd on the pitch…)

stove and saucepans
Everything on the stove

Anyway, the next step was to whisk the egg yolks with the water a little bit. To follow this thread of the recipe next I made a double boiler with yet another saucepan (the third one, so far) with a bit of water, and brought that to the boil, too – only to reduce the heat to let it simmer and then put the egg bowl over it. While still stirring I added the butter slowly until completely incorporated.

salmon steaks
Salmon in the water

So during these steps I could once again bring the (seasoned) water in the wok to the boil and simmer the steaks into it. After reaching the boiling point again, I let them simmer for something like five minutes – then put the wok aside and let the steaks stand in the liquid for another 5 minutes. That was only a little but too many – so I advise you for something like 4 minutes.

béarnaise sauce
Béarnaise sauce

As the butter and the yolks were ready, I put their bowl onto the counter and stirred in the wine mixture. Then I took the steaks from the wok and put them on a serving plate. I could take out two easily, but the third one fell apart – that one more minute, I guess.

salmon stakes
Two of the three steaks – they’re all right
salmon steaks
The third steak fell apart…

Anyway, I probably made a couple of mistakes and I had never made fish poached – but this was my best salmon ever. This was soft but not sloppy, this wasn’t overcooked. I had never made Bérnaise sauce but this one seemed very good for me and I liked it. And what’s more, I cooked some rice – and that was my best rice EVER. EVER.

So, here we go!

salmon steak and rice
Salmon steak, Béarnaise sauce on plate with rice


The salmon steaks

  • three steaks of salmon (around 800 grams)
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock

The Béarnaise sauce

  • half cup of butter
  • 1 teaspoon of minced white onion
  • 3 tablespoon of white wine
  • 3 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of dried Tarragon leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

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