Poached Salmon with Bourbon Cream Sauce

Elegantly prepared fresh  salmon is poached in milk and covered with a rich Kentucky bourbon cream  sauce with bacon and  shallot.
Poached Salmon with Bourbon Cream Sauce

Poached  Salmon with Bourbon Cream Sauce

By Sue Lau | Palatable Pastime

My recipe of the day is for poached salmon with bourbon cream sauce with the Fish Friday blogging group.  We  post on a common theme each month and this month it was for Poached Fish & Seafood.

I was really enthusiastic about this month’s theme! At first I thought I might do a sous  vide recipe. Then I was on the fence about being able to post at all, because I have been incredibly busy with #Choctoberfest (if you haven’t noticed).

But I really really did want to post with Fish Friday this month and had this incredible idea for making a bourbon cream sauce to go on my poached fish. And if you have also noticed, I have been on a bit of a bourbon  kick lately. So obviously. Yes.

This  turns out to be a very  elegant preparation that really isn’t very difficult- and  is  perfect for a special dinner  such as birthdays, Valentine’s Day,  anniversaries, and New Year’s. The  sauce is nicely rich- but like I said, not difficult. About as easy as making cream gravy.

And poaching  fish is not difficult either, as you will see.

Poached Salmon with Bourbon Cream Sauce

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Poached Fish & Seafood

Poached Salmon with Bourbon Cream Sauce

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Poached Salmon with Bourbon Cream Sauce

The salmon is poached in milk, which must be done at a low temperature so as not to scorch the milk. Leaving the skin on the fish helps protect the bottom of the fish, and it comes away easily when the fish is cooked.

You can also cook this in water,  if you are concerned about the milk for any reason. The milk is superior to water, however, as it helps remove any fishy odor it may have. I learned this trick  from a French chef a few years back.

The  cook time  is 5-10 minutes based on thickness of the fish and exactly how high  your heat is. Keep the heat low. Use an instant read thermometer to gauge when your fish is done. Overcooked fish is awful. But  you can be the judge of that.

Because the sauce is rich,  I would suggest serving this with something light and simple, such as rice and a tossed salad, rather than something rich and heavy like potatoes loaded with sour cream or cheese.

You can  always re-up  your rich meal with a delicious dessert.

Poached Salmon with Bourbon Cream Sauce

Sue Lau
No ratings yet
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American, Southern


  • Instant read Thermometer


Poached Salmon:

  • 1-1/2 pound salmon fillet
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • fresh chives (garnish)
  • lemon slices (garnish)

Bourbon Cream Sauce:

  • 3 ounces diced bacon (2 thick slices)
  • 1/2 cup chopped shallots
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 cup Kentucky bourbon whiskey
  • 1/2 teaspoon chicken base
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried chives
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream


Prep the sauce:

  • Saute the bacon and shallots in the butter until the bacon renders and browns.
  • Stir in the flour to coat.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and add the bourbon.
  • Also stir in the chicken base, seasonings, milk, and cream.
  • Return to the heat and cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens. Keep warm.

Prep the fish:

  • Leave the skin on the fish.
  • Heat the milk with salt whisked in using a deep skillet or wok pan, until milk steams.
  • Add the fish skin side down and simmer gently over low heat until fish temperature is where you like it (use instant read thermometer to check) or maybe even a few degrees below (temp will rise a little more as it rests). See temperatures below. I cook mine to just under medium. (about 120)
  • Ladle hot milk over fish as it cooks if it is not submerged.
  • Gently lift out fish using one or more spatulas to support it and place on serving platter. Dab up liquid with a paper towel.
  • Serve fish with warmed sauce, and garnish with lemon and chive.


Salmon cooking temperatures: Rare: 110F.; Medium: 125F.; Med-Well: 145F.
Keyword Bacon, bourbon, poached fish
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Poached Salmon with Bourbon Cream Sauce

Poached Salmon with Bourbon Cream Sauce

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