Citrus poached wild salmon with cucumber-yogurt sauce - Pamela Salzman Skip to content

Citrus poached wild salmon with cucumber-yogurt sauce

So Miss Vegetarian (aka Daughter #2) has decided that she isn’t as opposed to meat as she once declared.  You might remember back in April that my 12-year-old announced her abstinence from all animal flesh and whole eggs.  She would have been vegan if it weren’t for her love of cheese and ice cream.  I have no problem with vegetarianism since I was one for many years.  You’ve gotta do what’s good for you.  But I had a hunch that my daughter wouldn’t make it to 13 as a vegetarian.  Call it mother’s intuition or maybe just the vivid image I still have of her gnawing on a t-bone until it was dry.

So the recent announcement from Daughter #2 is that she has decided that she is only fish-averse.  Is that the opposite of a pescatarian?  Well, bummer, because that’s the one animal protein I was hoping she would come back to.  I love fish, especially salmon, and I have always been so grateful that my family enjoys it, even Mr. Picky.  Well, except for my husband, who is “allergic” to salmon, but will eat most all other varieties.

One of my favorite ways of preparing salmon is poaching.  My husband likes when I poach fish because he says it doesn’t make the house smell “fishy,” but I like it because it is ridiculously quick and easy and a very healthful way of preserving all the wonderful Omega-3 fats in salmon.  In the summer poaching is a no-brainer because it’s a perfect alternative to grilling, which you are all doing too much of.   You can poach your salmon in the morning and serve it cold for dinner or use the poached fish on top of an entree salad or turn it into salmon salad for a sandwich.  My kids prefer poached salmon slightly warm and they looove this cucumber-yogurt sauce, which is creamy, cool and slightly tangy.  I have also served poached salmon with a salsa of fresh tomatoes, basil and olive oil.

Many of my students have asked me if I continue to eat wild fish after the nuclear event in Japan, and I still do.  My friends at Vital Choice Seafood have addressed the issue to my satisfaction and that’s that.  I am honestly more concerned about consuming farm raised seafood.  I’m sure there are sustainable fish farms out there, but I don’t have time to go look for them.  In the meantime, I am comfortable eating wild salmon once per week and Daughter #2 can just have her cucumber-yogurt sauce with a spoon.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Citrus Poached Wild Salmon with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce
Serves: 4-6, depending on how big you cut the salmon
  • 1 ½ cups dry white wine
  • 3 cups water
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Juice of ½ orange
  • ½ lemon, sliced
  • ½ orange, sliced
  • Few sprigs of parsley
  • Few sprigs of dill
  • 1 24-ounce side of wild salmon, cut into individual portions
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce (recipe follows)
  1. Place all the ingredients except salmon, salt and sauce in a deep skillet, preferably one with straight sides and a lid. (I used a 10-inch.) Bring to a simmer.
  2. Season salmon with sea salt to taste. Gently transfer the salmon pieces to the pan, skin side down, beginning with the thickest pieces and ending with the thinnest. Cover the skillet and simmer over low heat until the salmon is just cooked through, about 5-6 minutes, longer for thicker fillets. Do not boil.
  3. Transfer the salmon by removing the thinnest piece first and the thickest piece last. Allow to cool slightly and serve immediately with cucumber-yogurt sauce or cover and refrigerate until cold.

¾ cup Greek yogurt (I like full fat.)

½ cup grated unpeeled cucumber, such as Persian, Japanese or English

2 Tablespoons chopped fresh dill or mint

1 small clove garlic, crushed

2 teaspoons drained capers

1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar or white wine vinegar

¾ teaspoon fine grain sea salt

a few grinds of black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small serving bowl. Cover and chill until cold.

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  1. This recipe is so delicious. I let it cool and used in a salad with Green Goddess dressing. The salmon is so lite and tender.
    Thank you for sharing!!!

    • Perfect combo! Glad you gave it a try.

  2. I made this in a large quantity for my daughter’s baby shower. Made the day before and served chilled with the cucumber dill sauce. Very simple, and a big hit. A few people asked where I had it catered from! definitely a keeper. Thanks.

    • Look at you! Nice job. I agree — super simple and quite delicious. Perfect for a baby shower!

  3. So easy. So good. The leftovers will be amazing. I can’t believe it took me this long to try this one!

    • Better late than never, Alex.;) And you’re right, leftovers of this are fab.

  4. I live in mexico and we don’t have greek yogurth yet…so what can i use instead?

    • Greek yogurt is just regular yogurt that has been strained, so it’s thicker. You can line a colander or a sieve with paper towels or a clean, think kitchen towel and pour regular yogurt into it. Put a plate under the colander to catch any liquid and refrigerate for about 4 hours. The result will be equivalent to thick Greek yogurt! Otherwise you can use crema and sour cream mixed together.

  5. Hi Pamela – I was raving about this recipe to my mother in law and she was asking me if there is a non dairy substitute that you can use in lieu of the yogurt for the sauce. Any ideas? Thanks, Alex

    • She can try a soy yogurt (such as Silk or Wildwood) and drain it for a few hours to make it thick like Greek yogurt. Just line a sieve or colander with a thin, clean kitchen towel, set over a bowl and keep in the refrigerator. Otherwise, go in a different direction and make a relish or salsa with cukes, cherry tomatoes, and herbs. That is delicious, too!

  6. Awesome recipe. Such a great way to prepare Salmon. I poached it your way and topped
    it with leeks. Great dinner, next time i Really want to try the yogurt sauce.
    Thanks again,

    • Thanks, Domenica! The yogurt sauce is just one way to add to the salmon, but really the sky’s the limit as to what you can use to complement it. Enjoy!

  7. Richie made this last night — everyone — even our own Messrs. Picky — loved it. Thanks Pamela!

    • I think poaching salmon makes it less “fishy” tasting. In our house, my Mr. Picky just eats poached salmon straight up. It might be his favorite method of prep.

  8. Hi Pamela,
    Stefania Mignone told me about your site! Mario Mignone was one of my favorite professor in college. Anyway, which salmon is the best to eat? Wild, farmed, chilean scottish? I m so confused.

    • Welcome Shana! Yes, it’s all very confusing, I agree. I always go for fish (or animals) raised in their natural environments, eating what is natural to them. For fish, I buy only buy wild. There are probably some sustainable fish farms out there, but there is so little regulation that it’s hard to really know if they are what they say they are. Scottish and Atlantic salmon is ALWAYS farm-raised. Alaskan salmon is ALWAYS wild. However, you can buy wild salmon from other regions, especially the Pacific Northwest. I buy all my salmon from Pricey, but worth it. One of the best sites for wading through all the current seafood info is Let me know if you have any more questions!

  9. Made this last night for dinner….Absolutely fantastic!

    • Just what I want to hear. Happy cooking! 🙂

  10. Forgot to ask you – I planted several terrific herbs because of your inspiration but haven’t had good luck with my dill plants. Your dill in pics looks very healthy – what is your trick? In May I planted seedlings from farmers market and they produced feathers once and never again just the flower pods remaining.

    • Dill is one of the few herbs I don’t plant in my garden, so I don’t know if there’s a trick to growing it or not. The dill pictured here I bought at the farmer’s market. When I see the herb lady I buy from, I’ll ask her if dill is difficult to grow.

  11. Hi Pam,
    Haven’t had a chance to tell you how much I have been enjoying your site. Love your recipes and can’t wait to try the salmon one. Matt and I eat salmon at least 3 times a week and I try my own toppings with all of my grown herbs, but the yogurt one sounds very interesting and can’t wait to try it. Best to your family. xoxo

    • Oh, I love that you grow your own herbs! I think you’ll enjoy the cucumber-yogurt sauce as it’s a little like tzatziki.

  12. Made last night and love your easy recipe!! But ha! – it makes me cry to use the good wine for cooking and not drinking!! Is there a good after use for the poaching liquid or do you toss it? Love the homemage yogurt sauce as well and I will use it for a veggie dip and also in my pitas stuffed with falafel,lamb and/or veggies. Also, we LOVE the McCormicks BignBold spice blend called “Roasted Garlic & Red Bell Pepper” heavily sprinkled on top of olive oil/lemon juice/white wine marinated salmon which I bake@375 for 10 and broil for 2 minutes. Something about that spice combo has won many a ‘non’salmon eater. Trick is to barely cook and keep super moist! I seerve with your pesto linguini. Thanks for inspiring me!

    • Barbara, Thanks so much for your comment. I never use pricey wine for cooking. The bottle in the photo is $6 and I use 1 1/2 cups of it. I don’t use the poaching liquid for anything else, but I have made a double batch of salmon and used the liquid twice. You just have to bring it back up to a boil before you add your next pieces of salmon. Thanks for the tip about the spice blend — I’ve got to try it on my husband!

  13. I’d like to order two portions for dinner tonight. I can pick it up around 6! LOL! Looks delish!

    • Sorry, Caryn! This was last night’s dinner. The good news is you have plenty of time to whip this up for tonight. 🙂

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I come from a large Italian-American family with 28 first cousins (on one side of the family!) where sit-down holiday dinners for 85 people are the norm (how, you might ask – organization! But more on that later …).

Some of my fondest memories are of simple family gatherings, both large and small, with long tables of bowls and platters piled high, the laughter of my cousins echoing and the comfort of tradition warming my soul.

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