swedish recipe

Thrill of the chill: Poached arctic char with dill sauce tastes like summer in Scandinavia

Oh, wait – it's not summer yet? It's certainly heating up! And when the going gets hot, Scandinavian-style cold poached salmon makes a delicious centerpiece for a dreamy chilled dinner or lunch.

Traditionally, this is done with a whole salmon – and that's fantastic for feeding a crowd. But what if you just want to do a salmon fillet? What if it's just dinner for two? Or what if you go to the fish counter and beautiful arctic char fillets are on sale? 

Grab that fillet and get ready to poach. It's so easy and yield such great results that if you've never done it before, you'll wonder where the technique has been all your life.


Lay the fillet skin-side down in a smallish roasting pan (or a fish poacher, if you happen to have one, which I don't). Cover it with cold water and add enough salt to make it taste like the sea. You don't need to add other flavorings to the water, as the both char and salmon have enough lovely flavor on their own; char's flavor is a little more delicate. Bring the water to a simmer, turn off the heat and let the fish sit in the hot water for 25 minutes. Transfer it to a platter and chill it. That's it. Garnish it with slices of lemon and sprigs of dill, if you like. 

You probably don't even need a recipe, but here it is:

A 1 1/4 pound fillet serves two or three; poach two fillets if you want to serve four to six. 

Serve it with a mustardy fresh dill sauce, and asparagus and boiled red potatoes – both are which delicious if they happen to crash into that dill sauce. I nearly forgot: cold cucumber salad's great with it, too!

Here's how to make the cucumber salad: 

And the dill sauce . . . 

And here's the best part. Make the fish and the dill sauce (and cucumber salad, if you're doing that...) in the morning, or the day before. Then you just pull 'em out of the fridge and serve. How's that for chill?