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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

5 Star Makeover: Icy Poached Fish

"Most of the famous French dishes involving filet of sole center around fish poached in white wine and coated with a lovely, creamy sauce made from the poaching liquid." 
Julia Child describes poaching fish fillets from Mastering the Art of French Cooking. This month's 5 Star Makeover theme is Cooking with Wine. We can choose any classic dish where wine is a major ingredient and put our own unique spin on it.

Poached Red Snapper with Wine Ice
served with Mushroom Cream Sauce, Lemon Zest, and Scallions

I re-created Julia Child's Fish Filets Poached in White Wine and decided to present an icy, refreshing poached snapper dish surrounded with ice made from its poaching liquid, accompanied by a mushroom cream sauce, lemon zest, and scallions. For a light dish like poached fish, a low-tannin wine is most appropriate due to the lack of fat in this dish. Tannin and fattiness go hand in hand. So braised short ribs would go well with a bottle of Bordeaux or Cabernet, for example. In this case, I poached the fish in Pinot Grigio to avoid masking the light fish flavor with a high-tannin wine.

Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Fish Filets Poached in White Wine
Adapted from Mastering the Art of French Cooking
  • 2 tbsp of finely chopped green onions
  • 2.5lbs of skinless, boneless red snapper fillets
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1.5 tbsp of butter cut into bits
  • 1.5 cups of Pinot Grigio and water mixture
  • 1 tbsp of butter
  • 1 tbsp of flour
  • A handful of small cremini mushrooms
  • Lemon, for zesting
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly butter a shallow fireproof baking dish that is about 2 inches deep.
  2. Sprinkle half of the scallions in the bottom of the dish. Season fillets with salt and pepper.
  3. Place fillets in dish and sprinkle remaining scallions over them, along with bits of butter.
  4. Pour in wine/water mixture until fish is barely covered.
  5. Bring dish almost to a simmer on stovetop. Lay a buttered paper over the fish, then bake for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove fish and set on a plate to cool, then refrigerate. Pour 2/3 of the poaching liquid into a shallow dish and freeze for at least 2 hours.
  7. Bring remaining poaching liquid to a boil on the stove and stir in 1 tbsp of butter, 1 tbsp of flour, 1 tsp of salt, a dash of pepper, and mushrooms. Boil sauce down until thickened. Leave in fridge to cool.
  8. To serve, scrap poaching liquid ice with a fork. Place ice in a glass or bowl. Spoon a little bit of the mushroom sauce over the ice. Place a piece of fish over ice and sauce. Cover fish with more crushed ice. Sprinkle a little bit of lemon zest over the fish. Serve cold.

Thank you to Natasha from 5 Star Foodie and Laz from Lazaro Cooks! for hosting the 5 Star Makeover!


  1. What an interesting take on this dish Jessica! Looks amazing =)

  2. What a fun challenge! Making ice from the poaching liquid was a brilliant idea.

  3. Truly a five star dish and i bet it tastes awsm! I am fish lover and this goes is my wish list.

  4. making fancy fish dishes are hard! poached fish in white wine! wow, date night food!

  5. Creative, smart, and lots of fun. Your photo and presentation are flawless. So vibrant. Practically jumping off the screen. Two thumbs way up!

  6. I own this book to Jessica! However, I'm not very good at following a cook book haha. I tried a few recipes and I guess I was done. Good choice picking out this recipe! Poached fish has full flavor from wine.

  7. I recently tried Pinot Grigio for the first time...and loved it! The winemaker who introduced me to it called it "a breakfast wine" as it's so light and fruity... your dish looks delicious!

  8. Such a lovely and creative twist...beautiful dish!

  9. Wow, what an intriguing twist on a classic - I'd be fascinated to try this one out

  10. Love your modern take on Julia Child's classic! Making ice from the poaching liquid was brilliant!

  11. what an interesting approach to using the different wines. and i really like the iced sauce---I'm going to have to try this! Loving the makeovers so far!

  12. This is totally a new way of eating fish for me and I love it. I need to challenge myself with new method, new taste, in a whole different way... I don't read cookbook enough (well, I don't own many either). You inspired me to open some books and find some new method. I should try this one on weekends.

  13. Very unique and chic for this month's challenge.

  14. Wow so creative, and love that it is Julia inspired. This would make an amazing summer appetizer. Brava!

  15. Beautiful presentation! The mushroom cream sauce looks/sounds amazing.

  16. A gourmet-restaurant worthy appetizer, and a stunning presentation!