Olive Oil Primer: Patience When Poaching Halibut, Other Food

We’ve been checking with chefs about how they poach food in extra virgin olive oil. Denver-area chef Gregory Strickland is a big fan of the cooking technique. He tells us EVOO “preserves the texture” of a fish like halibut and delivers good flavor. But he also tells us “patience” is crucial when poaching fish and other foods in olive oil. “If you do it too quickly it does not work out well,” says Strickland.

Strickland is an executive chef for Vi, the upscale senior living center chain formerly known as Classic Residence by Hyatt. Strickland heads the kitchen at the Vi in Highlands Ranch, Colo.

Poaching in EVOO “gives the fish a silky texture,” says Strickland. “The fruity flavor of the olive oil permeates the fish but does not overwhelm it.”

But what happens to the fish if you increase the temperature of the EVOO too quickly during the poaching process?

“You lose some of that silky texture and it become firmer,” says Strickland, a certified dietary manager who must always be attentive to the dietary needs of his senior clientele.

Strickland agreed to share his recipe for olive oil-poached halibut, which he serves with Yukon Gold potatoes and lemon-grilled asparagus.

In a small pan, Strickland covers the halibut with EVOO. Before turning on the heat, he lets the halibut marinate for at least 20 minutes in the oil. You can add aromatics to the oil, if you want.

After seasoning the halibut with salt pepper, Strickland returns the fish to the pan and slowly raises the temperature of the oil until it reaches 175 degrees Fahrenheit.

Poach the fish at that temperature until it is “soft,” usually about 20-25 minutes, says Strickland. Carefully remove the halibut from the oil and pat it dry for serving.

Bon appétit,

Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch