Poached Pike

“Poached Pike” 

Submitted by:

Richard Hoffman,
Department of History, York University, Toronto, Canada 

Butchery and Ethnographic Info: 

Pike in the 3-5 pound range are common in the small lakes of southern Ontario and among the few local fishes I think can be taken without threat to their populations. The y-bones make these unsuitable for steaking or filleting, so I merely scale and remove the gills and entrails, then keep the fish whole and poach it in court bouillon. (You can remove the tail or head if necessary to fit it into the pan.) This method is good for other varieties of fish with delicate flavor and potentially dry flesh. 


[Sorry, I measure in a mix of metric and imperial!] 

For Court bouillon: 

  • Water 500ml dry white wine 
  • 1 large onion, sliced 
  • 2 sticks celery with leaves, chopped 
  • 1 carrot, sliced 
  • 3 branches fresh dill, leaves and flower heads 
  • 1 clove garlic, cut in half 
  • 1 bay leaf 
  • 4 slices lemon or lime 
  • Dozen peppercorn 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • ˝ teaspoon sugar 


Place all ingredients except the fish into a pan that is big enough to hold the fish. Bring to a vigorous boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Let cool to tepid. Place the fish in clean cloth or on a rack and lower into the poaching pan. If the bouillon does not cover the fish add more water and wine. Bring to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes for each inch of thickness at the thickest point, but no longer. (Overcooked pike is dry and tasteless!) Remove to a tray/platter. To serve hot: peel off skin and lift flesh from the bones, serve with lemon and melted butter. To serve chilled [the perfect summer dish!]: Peel off skin and let cool in the refrigerator. Prepare a tray/platter of lettuce and sauces of mustard and mayonnaise; sour cream and chopped cucumber; horseradish and cayenne; salsa. Repose the fish on the tray/platter with olives, egg slices, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, green onions, etc. In any case serve with a chilled white wine or icy wheat beer and good company. One fish serves 3-5 people (6 in a pinch!). You can poach two fish side by side in a large pan and make a party of it.