Poached Fish with Tomato-Saffron Broth and Garden Vegetables

Poached Fish with Tomato Saffron Broth (c) 2013 La Domestique

Back in April I arrived in Ireland with all my worldly possessions packed into two suitcases, including my cherished copper fish poacher. Snatched up at a second-hand shop, it’s one of my favorite finds. I especially love the detail in the handles shaped like fins and the tiny metal fish perched atop the lid. The hours leading up to our flight were fairly traumatic as I tried to stuff the few belongings I hadn’t sold into our unforgiving luggage. At the last minute clothes were thrown out and tough decisions were made as I lingered over what I couldn’t bear to leave behind. It’s a strange thing, parting with all the stuff you’ve accumulated over the years. I dove into the process head first, fully committed to the idea of starting over. In the end, it is “just stuff,” but to this day I do grieve letting certain things go. A friend advised us not to put our home in a storage unit because that makes it harder. She said keeping memories stored in the States is like keeping part of your heart there and you’ve got to make the leap into a new life without reservation or you’ll never have a fighting chance. Our possessions mean home, and home is where the heart is.

Poached Fish in Tomato Saffron Broth (c)2013 La Domestique

Mostly, my heart is in Ireland. Remember back in June when I told you I was yearning for the sultry heat of summer? Well July granted my wish with a heat wave that will go down in Irish history. Now my pale skin is a perfect shade of golden tan and the intense, muggy heat has brought memories of my childhood home in the Southern United States flooding back. I realize that in my brain Arkansas is a land of eternal summer, oppressively hot and humid. I remember taking cold showers only to be hot and sweaty again in minutes. It’s funny to miss something I used to complain about constantly: the heat. But I do miss it, just like I miss lightning bugs and barbecues and my family.

The recipe for Poached Fish with Tomato-Saffron Broth and Garden Vegetables was inspired by memories of steamy Southern heat and heady aromas of a garden in full bloom. This is a recipe for the heat of summer, when tomatoes hang heavily on the vine and your garden is bursting with fresh herbs. Poached fish may sound fancy, but it’s a fool proof technique of cooking fish by gently simmering it in broth for a few minutes. Any firm white-fleshed fish will do: cod, halibut, monkfish or whatever is freshest at the market. Embrace the lazy summer haze and don’t worry about being too precise– toss in a handful of herbs, sloppily chop the tomatoes and nonchalantly add the four cloves of garlic. Serve the delicate pieces of fish over a quick cooking grain, like bulgur or couscous, with generous spoonfuls of saffron-infused broth and garden vegetables.

Ingredients for Poached Fish in Tomato Saffron Broth (c)2013 La Domestique

Poached Fish with Tomato-Saffron Broth and Garden Vegetables

serves 4


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium-sized zucchini (weighing about 6 ounces), thinly sliced
  • 1 1/4 pounds very ripe tomatoes, an assortment of cherry tomatoes and heirloom varieties
  • 1/2 cup homemade chicken stock (or water)
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 large filet of cod, halibut, monkfish or other firm white fleshed fish (weighing about 1 to 1 1/3 pounds), bones removed
  • Sea salt

Heat the olive oil over medium on the stovetop in a fish poacher or other large pan that has a lid. Smash the garlic cloves with the flat side of your knife and toss them into the warm oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, allowing the garlic to become golden and caramelized (about 5 minutes). Add the leeks and zucchini slices and cook until tender (5 minutes), stirring occasionally. Roughly chop the tomatoes, leaving some of the cherry tomatoes whole for a variety of textures. Add the tomatoes to the pan with a couple pinches of salt and stir to combine all the ingredients. Pour over the chicken stock and bring the mixture to a simmer. Stir in the saffron and 1 tablespoon of chopped basil leaves.

Place the fish on top of the simmering liquid, turn the heat down to low and put the lid on the pot. If the fish is too large to fit in the pot, cut it into manageable pieces. The liquid should gently simmer, not boil. Poach the fish until it flakes easily with a fork and appears opaque throughout, 10-15 minutes. Season to taste with sea salt at the end of cooking.

To serve, divide the fish into four portions using a spatula. Serve the fish over delicate bulgur wheat or couscous with the vegetables from the pan, a spoonful of the aromatic broth and a few leaves of basil.


  1. You are certainly finding the light over there! The pictures are beautiful, as well as this wonderfully healthy summer dish.

    • Thanks Sarah! It’s nice having a big kitchen with lots of windows. :)

  2. This dish sounds wonderful, Jess! Very summery, light and flavorful. Your copper fish poacher is quite a beauty and I’m sure comes in handy. I’m glad you saved it :)

    • Thanks, Nicole! I’m glad I saved it too! I hope you try the poached fish, it’s just perfect served room temp on a warm sunny summer evening.

  3. Jess, I can’t imagine fitting my life in two suitcases. Good for you for being brave. And I totally get why it would be even more difficult to have it all in storage on another continent. You kept a beauty though, and I’m sure the fish was delicious. Great light! Nice to hear your summer is full of some heat! We’ve had spells of it here, but nothing too major. I had socks and long pants on tonight!

    • Renee,

      Thanks so much for your comment. I’m glad you’ve gotten a bit of sunshine too. Everyone here says it’s been 10 years since they’ve had a sunny summer so I’m very thankful for it. :)

  4. We all know it can’t be monkfish. Too ugly! :)

    • Haha! It’s hake in the photo, but I’ve made this with monkfish and it was delicious. :) You’re right though, it’s one ugly sea monster!

  5. Jess, I can see why you weren’t willing to part with your poacher… Such a pretty dish. And your summery poached fish looks delish. I’m glad you’re settling into your new Irish life and eating really well!

    • Thanks Erin! I hope you’re having a wonderful summer!

  6. How did you pare down to 2 suitcases? I look around my apartment and I feel exhausted and weighed down by all my possessions. I really want to reduce the amount of stuff I own but it’s just so hard. Everything holds sentimental value. We try to sell things online to make a bit of pocket money, but it just sits in the corner of our living room waiting for a hopeful sale. Perhaps I should just donate it all.

    In other news, this poached fish looks and sounds absolutely delicious! I recently read a recipe in which you poach fish entirely in olive oil. Perhaps I’ll start off with this recipe first.

    • Thanks for popping by, Sara! Paring down our possessions was very difficult and I still mourn having gotten rid of some things. It’s been good for us, though, and definitely makes us want to live simpler lives with less clutter. I hope you enjoy this recipe, it fits in perfectly with your “year of health!”

  7. This fish dish looks absolutely divine! I meant to comment here a good while back but things got busy and in the meantime I kept dreaming of this beautiful fish with its fragrant broth and vegetables. It really is my kind of meal so I will make sure to try it before Autumn completely settles and takes away the lovely Summer vegetables.

    • Oh thank you, Yolene! You’ve still got a bit of time left to make this. I hope you enjoy it!


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