Poached Salmon Fillets with Creamy Herbed Cucumber Sauce

Poaching salmon for any occasion just got tastier thanks to a delicious cucumber sauce.

Poached Salmon Fillets with Creamy Herbed Cucumber Sauce
Photo: Victor Protasio; Food Styling: Chelsea Zimmer; Prop Styling: Christine Keely
Active Time:
40 mins
Additional Time:
4 hrs
Total Time:
4 hrs 40 mins

This recipe for poached salmon fillets is perfect for dinner, whether you have an informal buffet or a more formal, plated affair. Filled with complex flavors, but super simple to make, Poached Salmon Fillets with Creamy Herbed Cucumber Sauce makes for a go-to recipe for all occasions. The flavors are reminiscent of the poached salmon you would find at buffet lunches with cucumbers arranged on top to resemble fish scales, however this fillet version is a bit more contemporary.

Center-cut fillets make reasonable, easy-to-serve portions, though it's easy to break off a smaller piece. Thanks to a quick brine of salty water, the salmon comes out perfectly moist. The fillets are topped with a cucumber sauce made with yogurt and lemon, this is a classic pairing we're not planning to stop making any time soon. Both the salmon and sauce keep well for a few days, which means it's a flexible dish that can handle last-minute changes in meal schedules.


  • 12 ounces mini seedless cucumbers (about 6 cucumbers)

  • 6 tablespoons plus 1¼ tsp. kosher salt, divided

  • 6 cups cold water, plus more for cooking salmon

  • 8 (6- to 8-oz.) skin-on center-cut salmon fillets

  • 1 cup (8 oz.) dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc; avoid oaky Chardonnay)

  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced (about 1 cup)

  • 2 small celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces (about ¾ cup)

  • 1 medium carrot, cut into 1-inch pieces (about ½ cup)

  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)

  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill, plus 2 large dill sprigs, divided

  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 2 large parsley sprigs, divided

  • 1 tablespoon pickling spice 

  • ½ teaspoon black peppercorns

  • 1 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt (or sour cream)

  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice (from 2 limes)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard

  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper

  • Grated lemon zest or lime zest


  1. Coarsely grate cucumbers using large holes of a box grater. Line a fine mesh strainer with cheesecloth, and place strainer in a bowl. Place grated cucumbers in prepared strainer, and toss with 1 teaspoon of the salt. Place in refrigerator; drain at least 4 hours or up to 12 hours.

  2. Meanwhile, stir together 6 cups cold water and 6 tablespoons of the salt in a large, shallow dish until salt dissolves. Add salmon fillets in a single layer. Refrigerate, uncovered, 1 hour.

  3. Remove salmon from shallow dish; discard salt water. Working in batches, if needed, arrange salmon in a single layer in a large, shallow Dutch oven or a large, nonreactive skillet with a tight-fitting lid. Add wine, onion, celery, carrot, lemon juice, dill sprigs, parsley sprigs, pickling spice, and peppercorns. Add enough cold water to submerge salmon (about 4 cups). Cook over medium until an instant-read thermometer inserted in cooking liquid reaches 175°F, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 10 minutes. Using a long spatula, lift salmon to remove from liquid. Pat salmon dry. Repeat poaching process with remaining salmon. Discard poaching liquid and solids in Dutch oven.

  4. Arrange salmon on a serving platter. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 12 hours.

  5. Meanwhile, place yogurt, chives, lime juice, oil, mustard, sugar, pepper, and remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and 3 tablespoons each chopped parsley and dill in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

  6. Remove cucumbers from refrigerator, and squeeze to remove liquid; discard liquid. Stir ⅔ cup squeezed cucumbers into yogurt sauce; reserve remaining squeezed cucumbers for garnish. Remove and discard salmon skin. Dollop salmon with sauce; garnish with lemon zest and squeezed cucumbers.

Related Articles