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Haddock Poached in Wine with Maine Shrimp Sauce

Haddock Poached in Wine with Maine Shrimp Sauce

Another of the great wild-caught seafood harvests in Maine is the beautiful little shrimp that appears in our markets in the winter. Fresh, delicate and flavorful, these little guys are a lot of work to prepare but worth every minute of it. Paired with fresh-from-the dock haddock fillets, they make a remarkable and memorable meal of Maine goodness.

Julia1cov150_1This dish comes with some personal 1969, when I was still an undergraduate, a girlfriend gave me a copy of Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking  (this was before Volume II, so it didn't carry the "Vol. I" designation) and over the next few years I dipped into it gingerly. As time went on, however, cooking a dinner for a date (because I couldn't afford to take them out to dinner!) became a regular routine for me, and very early on I latched on to Julia's Filets de Poisson with Sauce Parisienne (sole poached in wine and sauced with a white sauce made from the poaching liquid) as my regular seduction supper. I made this dish probably five times a year until I finally stopped dating and got married at 35!

Did it work? Well, I kept doing it so perhaps a conclusion can be is an impressive dish, appropriate for a romantic candlelit table and a bottle of crisp Sauvignon Blanc or Pino Grigio.  Simple in appearance -- poached fillets with a sauce -- but delicate and, yes, seductive in its flavor: the fresh, slightly briny fish, the wine, the butter, the herbs. So, yes, I  can say I have  some nice memories of those dinners. And doing it over and over, as I did, gave me a lot of confidence with the dish, and with fish in general. Okay, I know: some guys have a great pickup line, other guys have a flashy car, snappy wardrobe, big job or bling-bling jewelry. I've got poached fish! Whatever...!

This version is an adaptation of Julia's original...fairly close to it, but simplified a bit, adding the shrimp and omitting the eggs and cream from her sauce to lighten it up...

Haddock Poached in Wine with Maine Shrimp Sauce

Serves 4.

1-1/2 lb skinless haddock fillets (sole, flounder or other firm white fillets can be used)
3/4 lb Maine shrimp, headed and shelled (see note below)
4 T shallots, minced
6 slices shallot
4 parsley stems
1 tsp lemon juice, plus more to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 T +3 T butter
4 T flour
3/4 C milk
salt, white pepper to taste

Simmer the shallot slices, parsley stems and 1 teaspoon lemon juice about 20 minutes in about a quart of water, then add the shrimp, raise the heat and cook about 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp immediately and allow the poaching liquid to cool to room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350º. Wash and dry the fillets and cut them into serving pieces. Scatter half the minced shallots in a buttered fireproof baking dish large enough to hold the fillets in one overlapping layer. Lay in the fillets, sprinkle with a little salt, and scatter on the remaining minced shallots. Dot with the 2 tablespoons butter, cut in small bits. Pour in about 1-1/2 cup of the shrimp-poaching liquid and the wine. (Save the remaining shrimp-poaching liquid for another use.) Add water to cover if necessary.

Cover the fish with a buttered piece of waxed paper or a piece of parchment paper and poach in the oven about 8 - 12 minutes. Regulate the heat so that the liquid barely moves. Do not overcook!

Remove the fish to a warmed side plate, covered. Turn on the broiler. Drain the poaching liquid into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Make a roux by melting the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a sauté pan on medium heat and cooking it until foaming subsides, then stirring in the flour and cooking, stirring, for two or three minutes. The roux should not darken. Add the simmering poaching liquid and the milk and whisk smooth. Cook for several minutes, stirring. Thin the sauce with some of the reserved shrimp-poaching liquid if necessary. Remove from heat and stir in about 2/3 of the shrimp. Correct seasoning with salt, white pepper and a squeeze or two of lemon juice.

To serve, spoon the sauce over the fish, top with the reserved shrimp, and place about 6 to 7 inches from the broiler for a couple of minutes to reheat. Garnish with minced parsley if desired.


1. Save the  shrimp heads, tails and shells to make red shrimp broth.

2. If you're making the dish without shrimp, you can use any of the following for the poaching liquid:
1-1/2 C fish stock + 1/2 C wine
or: 3/4 C wine + 1/2 C bottled clam juice + 3/4 C water
or: 1-1/4 C win + 3/4 C water


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I love this idea! It's going straight onto my list of recipes I must try in the next month. The addition of the shrimp is really clever.


Maybe fresh shrimp are a lot of work, but I would kill to have them available. Sometimes prawns are just too big.

Hee, hee. Cool, Stephen! I will add this to my list of "must try" recipes. Have a good weekend.

BTW: Do you mind playing along? If so, tag. You're it. If not, I understand. Cheers!

This is my first try at a recipe from your site and it was just lovely. I added bay scallops to the shrimp to entice a picky eater. Looking forward to my next choice -just wish we got better seafood here in Chicago.

Do you know the measurements for just 2 people? sounds lovely.

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