It’s salmon time! Today, we’re going for the whole poached salmon recipe that makes for a grand centerpiece on dinner tables. Poaching an entire salmon seems like a daunting task, some cooks prefer to remove the head for easier handling but an entire fish looks more appealing to the eye. In this recipe, we’ll guide you through poaching your salmon whole and preparing a spectacular meal.

Whole Poached Salmon Recipe

Prep Time 30 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Entrée (main meal), Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 8
Calories 680 kcal


  • 1 whole salmon (scaled, gutted and gills removed)
  • 1 medium onion thinly sliced
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 large lemon, zest and juice
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste

For garnishing

  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced rounds
  • 1 orange, thinly sliced rounds
  • Fennel fronds
  • 3 kumquats, thinly sliced rounds
  • 1 bunch watercress
  • Cucumber, thick slices
  • 1 bunch Fresh dill


  • Properly rinse fish under running water, removing any blood left over
  • Pat the insides and outer surface of fish dry with a paper towel
  • Place on a flat surface, trim any remaining fins near the belly and fins
  • If your poacher is smaller, remove the fish head and tail with a sharp knife
  • To cleanly remove the tail, cut it off near the tail fins
  • Stuff the cavity with lemon slices, onion and dill
  • Cut a cheesecloth measuring 17 inches wide and 8 inches long
  • Place the cheesecloth on a clean kitchen counter and lay the salmon over it lengthwise
  • Nicely wrap the fish in cloth and tie the ends with kitchen wire
  • Place a wire rack at the bottom of the poacher
  • Add cold water to the poacher so it covers the fish entirely
  • Add onion, bay leaves, vinegar, salt, pepper, zest and lemon juice to the poacher
  • Carefully place the cheesecloth encased fish on the rack in the poacher
  • Cover the poacher and place it on the stove over two burners
  • Turn on the flame and let the mixture heat up to a simmer, do not boil
  • Salmon will flake when completely cooked or when an instant-read thermometer reads 150 degrees F
  • Step 16 might take 20 to 30 minutes
  • After salmon is cooked turn off the flame and let it cool
  • Salmon should be cooled in its liquor preferably overnight or at least a for few hours
  • Carefully remove salmon from the poacher and untie the kitchen wire
  • Remove the cheesecloth and rinse it under warm water for reuse
  • Place the salmon on a platter and decorate with sliced lemon and orange in a row down the fishes' midline
  • Garnish with dill and watercress

Tips for this recipe

  • Cooking fish with the bone adds more flavor to it, especially with the onions and lemons tucked in the cavity
  • Remember to remove any seasonings from the cavity before serving as they are usually uncooked
  • Snapper, trout, halibut and any firm white fish can be cooked by this method, dark fish such a mackerel is not recommended
  • In poaching fish, it is a rule of thumb that it takes 10 minutes to cook 1-inch thickness, thus a large fish shall take 15 to 30 minutes
  • The liquor can be cooked beforehand and cooled. It can also be stored and refrigerated for later use
  • “Fresh is Best”, always go for fresh ingredients for better taste
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Voila! You’ve made a whole poached salmon! It’ll make a delicious and extravagant addition to your meal. If you do the garnishing right, it’s an eye-catching dish and deserves the center spot at your dinner table.

Side Dishes

Whole poached salmon is a dish best enjoyed with complementing side dishes. Salmon’s true flavors are brought up with healthy salads like the Black Bean Quinoa Salad and California Quinoa Salad. For a tangier undertone, pair the salmon with Cranberries and Kale Salad. Salmon lovers know how well Garlicky Kale goes with poached Salmon, Cauliflower and Kale is also a versatile recipe, check it out!

Have Almond Buns and add healthy carbs to your meal. Another source of healthy carbs would be the Cheesy Spinach Artichoke Bread Ring

More Salmon Recipes

Salmon is so scrumptious you can never have enough of it, try these delectable salmon recipes:

We hope you’ll give the whole poached salmon recipe a try. Yes, it’s a bit on the difficult side but believe it or not, it tastes really good!