Poaching fish in olive oil - oil recommendations?

I cook seafood a lot and would like to branch out and try poaching in olive oil. I’ve read that you should use EVOO for the best flavor. I usually buy nice varieties for dipping/drizzling that would be a waste for the amount i’ll need for poaching.

Has anyone tried this cooking method with much success? Any favorite EVOOs for poaching that offer good flavor but won’t break the piggy bank?

I would un-second the idea of using EVOO without some real careful thought.

EVOO generally has a stronger flavor than ‘plain ole’ oil’ - I’ve “ruined” dressings and the like with an overly strong EVOO. there is no accounting for taste, but I’ve had some expensive EVOO that I most definitely did not care for.

seems the fish would be all too quick to absorb the flavor / aroma - so cost aside, be sure you really like the EVOO by the spoonful before sending in the fish - and I would bring it up to a 130-150’F temp and taste “just to be sure”

Ugh, I know what you mean. I tried a cheapie EVOO from Ocean State Job Lot once (hey, it was only $3!) and it was so nasty I tossed it and my dressing was inedible. Good reminder.

Have you ever poached in oil? Any suggestions?

no, haven’t poached with oil… no experience there.

Yes, I’ve tried it, and wasted a lot of money using $$$ EVOO.

By my reckoning, about 2/3 of the published recipes call for EVOO, and 1/3 call simply for OO. Virtually none explain the reasons for the choice, or whether the taste of the oil should be strong or mild.

Personally, I like the taste of fish more than oil, so I would go with the most neutral olive oil you can find. Save the $$$ and put a little of the stronger EVOO out in a cruet for those who want the oil taste component to dominate.


Sorry for the confusion kaleokahu, I didn’t say anything to you I regretted that caused me to delete the post, but just that I realized I had accidentally hit the wrong reply button when I meant to respond to the original post.


I’ve never poached a fish in olive oil because where I live in Italy, literally surrounded by olive trees and with fish at hand, it would still be ruinously expensive. I’ve never seen the dish here. However: Do you live near a Sicilian deli/grocery? Because I think that if poaching in olive oil is done anywhere in Italy, it might be something done in Sicily, and my recommendation would be to go to a Sicilian deli and see if you can get some intelligence on what would be a good tasting but inexpensive BIG TIN of Sicilian olive oil for this project, and maybe it doesn’t have to be EV. Hopefully your deli folk are honest and will try to match you with the right inexpensive product and it will come in such a beautiful tin that even if you don’t like the oil, it can be a very nice decoration in your kitchen.

I want to add that I disagree that most EVOO is stronger in flavor. I do see that word “most” and I know that it doesn’t mean “all,” but I still think that the variety of flavors of EVOO is really very wide. I’m tempted to say almost as wide as wine flavors but that might be a stretch. However, I will agree that if you don’t like throat-burn, or peppery up-your-nose, or lots of viscosity, super fruitiness – then a lot of even premium EVOOs that win awards will taste lousy to you, alone or in food.

Thanks for the suggestion. We do have Italian markets (salumeria) here in Boston, though I don’t know if they’re specialized to regions of Italy (Sicily or otherwise). They usually tend to be pricier because they are importing products from Italy, but the next time I swing by I’ll have to see if they have anything that might fit the bill. I think I’ll just take the plunge and find a small bottle of something at the local market and try it on a piece of fish first.

I’m not sure of its origin, but the cooking shows and the online blogs report that fish poached in olive oil has amazing silky texture. I roast, bake and pan sear fish all the time - just looking to mix it up.

Might depend on where the Italian-Bostonians’ families originally came from in Italy. (Almost all of them in the northeast US came from some part of southern Italy). But even if they are not from Sicily, they might have some advice and be familiar with poached-in-olive-oil techniques, and which fish to use.

I have read the same about fish poached in olive oil about the silky texture (unsurpising if you are bathing it in oil?)

Have you ever poached fish in court boullion or other liquids? A friend of mine who is married to a Frenchmen served poached salmon at a dinner party and it was excellent and moist.

I’m not much of a poacher because it’s generally required too much active maintenance for my taste. This will be somewhat of an adventure for me.

if this technique is executed properly the fish absorbs very little oil, but even so you want a light-tasting oil.

we served oil-poached halibut one place i worked, but the cooks were able to re-use the oil all night, so it wasn’t a prohibitive food cost. it’s hardly worth it at home, tbh. we served a very slow-cooked salmon that i much preferred and that only had a light coating of oil on the outside so it wouldn’t stick to the pan.

as for cheap oil at ocean state, it’s entirely possible it was rancid and/or not actually olive oil.