Poached Salmon with Caper-Butter Sauce

"You'd think salmon is so rich you wouldn't want a butter sauce with it," Marcia Kiesel says. "But beurre blanc is complex. It tastes shallot-y and wine-y. It really complements the flavor of the fish." Slideshow:  More Salmon Recipes 

Poached Salmon with Caper-Butter Sauce
Photo: © Kristin Gladney
Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
40 mins


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 medium shallots, very finely chopped

  • 1 1/4 cups dry white wine

  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons

  • 1 tablespoon capers, drained and rinsed

  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 2 cups water

  • Four 6- to 7-ounce skinless salmon fillets

  • 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce


  1. In a small skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the shallots and cook over low heat until softened, about 4 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of the wine and boil over high heat until reduced to 2 tablespoons, about 7 minutes. Reduce the heat to moderate. Remove the skillet from the heat and whisk in the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, occasionally moving the pan back to the burner to keep the sauce very warm. Stir in the capers and season with salt and pepper.

  2. In a large skillet, combine the water with the remaining 1/2 cup of wine and bring to a boil. Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet. Simmer very gently over low heat, turning once, until just cooked through, about 4 minutes per side.

  3. When the salmon is almost done, gently reheat the butter sauce over moderate heat, whisking constantly just until hot; do not let it boil. Spread the shredded lettuce on plates. Using a slotted spatula, remove the salmon fillets from the skillet and quickly pat them dry with a paper towel, then set them on the lettuce. Pour the caper-butter sauce over the salmon fillets and serve.

Suggested Pairing

A buttery Chardonnay from California's Livermore Valley.

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