Julia Child’s Poached Salmon with Cucumber Sauce for #SundaySupper and #CookForJulia

If Julia Child were alive today, the Grande Dame of French cuisine would have been 100 this month. To honor this, Sunday Supper is teaming up with PBS to cook for Julia today. I’ve made a number of her recipes before, but more than anything it has been her words that have inspired me. Her memoir, My Life in France, is witty and humble, a love story between herself and her husband Paul, as well as her discovery of the joy of cooking. Julia Child’s personality always comes through in her cookbooks in a way that is rare and enviable. In her directions for poaching fish she says, “Fish that is resistant and flaky is overdone – too bad!”

Julia Child's Poached Salmon with Cucumber Sauce

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Of course deciding what to make from the canon that is Julia Child’s recipes – her legacy – was no easy matter. After a lot of indulgent eating this summer, I was craving something light and came across this lovely, simple recipe for Poached Salmon with Cucumber Sauce in her 1989 cookbook, The Way to Cook. I’ve poached chicken plenty of times but had never poached fish, and the tzatziki-like cucumber sauce totally called to me. Poaching is an easy and healthy technique, and one that I will employing with fish often from now on. It’s so easy! You can experiment with flavoring the poaching liquid (I poach chicken often in wine, broth, or citrus juice, for example), but this simple recipe calls just for water and wine vinegar.

This dish is fast, easy, and healthy, and is equally as good for a quick weeknights supper as it is for entertaining. You can spoon the sauce over the top or pass it separately. I served it with her green beans (recipe to come Friday!) and a salad. Sheer perfection, and great for a hot summers night!

Julia Child's Poached Salmon with Cucumber Sauce

I’ll leave you with some of my favorite Julia Child quotes:

“You’ll never know everything about anything, especially something you love.”

“This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!”

“Cooking is like love; it should be entered into with abandon or not at all.”

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

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Julia Child's Poached Salmon with Cucumber Sauce
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This poached salmon with tzatziki-style cucumber sauce is a light and healthy supper perfect for summer.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Poached Salmon:
  • Salt
  • Red or white wine vinegar
  • 1¼ pounds salmon filet
Cucumber Sauce:
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon wine vinegar
  • 1 cup sour cream (I used ½ light sour cream and ½ Greek yogurt)
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
For the poached salmon:
  1. Measure 3 inches of water into a wide-rimmed saucepan. Add 1½ teaspoons salt and 3 tablespoons wine vinegar for every quart of water. Bring to a boil.
  2. Add the salmon. Bring to just below a simmer and cook for about 6 minutes until done. According to Julia Child "Fish is done when the flesh has turned from translucent to opaque and, rather than feeling squashy to the touch like raw fish, it feels lightly springy. It should still be juicy. Fish that is resistant and flaky is overdone - too bad!"
  3. Remove the salmon with a slotted spatula and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to absorb the extra water.
  4. Transfer to a serving platter or plates and serve with the cucumber sauce.
For the cucumber sauce:
  1. Put the cucumber in a bowl and toss with the salt, sugar, and vinegar.
  2. Let stand for about 5 minutes, then mix in the sour cream.
  3. Season to taste and fold in the dill. (May be made a few hours in advance and refrigerated).
Gluten free, Kosher dairy

Check out these other great Julia Child recipes from the #SundaySupper crew!

#CookForJulia Breakfast

Râpée Morvandelle by Cindy’s Recipes and Writings 
Croissants by Cookistry 
Cheese and Bacon Quiche by Tora’s Real Food

#CookForJulia Lunch

Tuna Salad Nicoise by Magnolia Days 
Blood Orange, Walnut, and Rocket Salad by Granny’s Down Home Southern Cooking 
Croque Monsieur by Webicurean
Spinach and Cream Cheese Pancakes by Happy Baking Days 
Julia’s Chicken Salad by My Trials in the Kitchen 
Pissaladière Niçoise (Onion Tart with Anchovies and Black Olives) by The Wimpy Vegetarian
Provencal Tomato Quiche by Are you hungry?
Quiche Lorraine  Spoon and Saucer 

#CookForJulia Dinner

Bouillabaisse by The Girl in the Little Red Kitchen 
Boeuf Bourguignon by Chelsea’s Culinary Indulgence
Orecchiette Con Broccoli Di Rape and Sausages by Doggie at the Dinner Table 
Boeuf Bourguignon by Hezzi D’s Books and Cooks
Veal Stew with Onions and Mushrooms with Baked Cucumbers and Boiled Potatoes (Blanquette de veau a l’ancienne with concombres au buerre) by Kimchi Mom
Salmon en Papillote by Girlichef
Poached salmon with cucumber sauce by Katherine Martinelli
Lobster Souffle and Deviled Chicken- Crispy Bits & Burnt Ends 
Roasted Chicken with Julia’s Mustard Marinade by The Meltaways
Wild Mushroom and Herb Stuffed Chicken- Mama Mommy Mom
Puree of White Beans with Garlic and Herbs (Brandade á la Soissonaise) Avocado Pesto
Poulet au Porto by Family Foodie 

#CookForJulia Sides

Hollondaise over Blanched Asparagus by The Little Ferraro Kitchen
Scalloped Potatoes with Milk, Cheese, and Garlic (Gratin Dauphinois) by Home Cooking Memories 
Ratatouille by Basic N Delicious 
French-style country pate by There and Back Again
White Bean Dip with Homemade Tortilla Chips Momma’s Meals
Oeufs à la Diable by What Smells So Good?
Soubise by The Weekend Gourmet
Ratatouille by Cupcakes and Kale Chips

#CookForJulia Desserts

Cream Cheese and Lemon Flan by Juanita’s Cocina
Strawberry Sherbert in Cooky Cups by Cravings of a Lunatic
Creme Brulee by Wine Everyday
Mousseline Au Chocolat by Small Wallet Big Appetite
Peach Tarte Tatin by That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Cinnamon Toast Flan by Vintage Kitchen Notes
Dark Chocolate Crepes by Family Spice
Crepes Fines Sucrees by Mangoes and Chutney
Pommes Rosemarie:Apples Rosie  The Daily Dish Recipes
Espresso Soufflé by Chocolate Moosey
Best Ever Brownies by In the Kitchen with Audrey
Orange-Almond Jelly Roll Cake by Mrs. Mama Hen
Orange Spongecake Cupcakes by Mama’s Blissful Bites
Orange Mousse with Greek Yogurt by Sue’s Nutrition Buzz
Wine Pairings: Relishing Food and Wine; Thanks to Julia Child! by ENOFYLZ

61 thoughts on “Julia Child’s Poached Salmon with Cucumber Sauce for #SundaySupper and #CookForJulia

  1. Amy Kim

    Lovely photos! Wow, so easy. I need to try poaching fish. And that cucumber sauce? I could eat it by the cupfuls! Thank you for sharing!

  2. Renee

    Such amazing photography, Katherine. I love Salmon. Definitely going to have to pin this one and make it! Thanks for sharing it. 🙂

  3. lori

    My friend Jan and I attended the celebration for Julia’s 90th at Copia and will be celebrating her 100th this Saturday with boeuf bourguignon and chocolate cake. Your salmon looks so delicious we’ll have to do a little bit as a first course!

  4. kitchenriffs

    Nice photos & food styling! I love this dish – it’s been ages since I’ve made it (at least 10 years). Such an excellent summer dish, and you did it proud. Thanks.

  5. Eileen

    I love poached fish–it’s so easy & so good! You have to wonder why so few people seem to do it. Obviously they haven’t been paying sufficient attention to Julia! Love the tzatziki sauce too. 🙂

  6. Eha

    Thanks for the memory [and, Bob Hope, just for once, I do not mean you!] – I cooked that dish time and time and time again that year until I felt I could do justice to it! What a wonderful remembrance message to a great lady who encouraged so many of us . . . thank you!

  7. mjskit

    For some reason I have always grilled or plank our salmon, never poached it – not sure why. This looks really good and I especially love the cucumber sauce! It’s time to try something new even though it’s old. 🙂

  8. Hannah

    Beautiful recipe and photos, Katherine! What a lovely summer meal. Julia Child is a delight – another of her quotes that is a favorite of mine is, “If you’re afraid of butter, use cream.” She knew how to live!

  9. Nami | Just One Cookbook

    Hi Katherine! Until I started reading blogs today I didn’t know this mouth would been JC’s 100th b-day. How wonderful for everyone to make JC’s recipes. I love this cucumber sauce. Definitely something new and I’d love to try.

  10. Mary@Fit and Fed

    Your dill garnish looks beautiful! I’ve never poached salmon, my husband loves to grill and salmon’s the only meat we have, so a big wild salmon = grill time. I’m always up for another tip on when salmon’s done, so I’ll keep Julia’s words in mind. Seems to me, though, that the salmon is flakey when it’s done– that’s the sign we look for. But it’s not necessarily opaque all the way through. It should still be a little translucent in the very middle, that keeps cooking for a couple of minutes after you take it off the grill. For other fish, or for poaching, it may be different– I’ll have to try it and learn!

  11. Dori

    For the sauce I used 1/2 English Cucumber, lemon juice instead of vinegar, and dried dill because I had no fresh dill in the winter – it was delicious and makes a great veggie dip as well!

  12. sugar pawz

    After a lot of indulgent eating this summer, I was craving something light and came across this lovely, simple recipe for Poached Salmon with Cucumber Sauce in her 1989 cookbook, The Way to Cook. I served it with her green beans (recipe to come Friday!) and a salad.

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