Shanghai-style Poached Salmon Recipe

Give a twist to your favorite seafood with this unique recipe.

From "Salmon: Everything You Need to Know +45 Recipes"
January 2018

  • Shanghai-style poached salmon.
    Photo by Leigh Beisch
  • Salmon: Everything You Need to Know + 45 Recipes book cover.
    Photo by Leigh Beisch

Yield: 4 servings

In Salmon: Everything You Need to Know + 45 Recipes (Chronicle Books, 2016) acclaimed author Diane Morgan has crafted a go-to reference for home cooks who want to add more creative preparations of salmon to their repertoire. The book provides the basics as well as tips including: Wild versus Farmed Salmon, Know Your Species, Salmon and Health, and a Salmon Preparation Primer.

Here, I am taking liberties with a classic Shanghai-style braised whole fish by using salmon fillet cut into individual portions. The salmon is first cooked in water that has been simmered with ginger and green onions. Before it is fully cooked, almost all the liquid is drained off and the fish is basted in a sweet vinegar sauce and cooked through. I like to serve this dish with steamed jasmine rice, spooning some of the sauce over the rice.


4 salmon fillets, about 6 oz (170 g) each, skin and pin bones removed.

Sweet Vinegar Sauce

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
  • 4 green onions, including green tops, cut into 1-in (2.5-cm) lengths
  • 4 thin slices fresh ginger, peeled and julienned
  • 3 cups (720 ml) water
  • 3 green onions, including green tops, cut into 1-in (2.5-cm) lengths
  • 5 thin slices fresh ginger, peeled


  1. Remove the salmon from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking to bring it to room temperature.
  2. To make the sauce: In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, vinegar, and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the 4 green onions and julienned ginger. Set aside.
  3. In a sauté pan just large enough to hold the salmon fillets in a single layer, combine the water, 3 green onions, and sliced ginger. Bring to a boil over medium heat, turn the heat to medium-low, and simmer for 5 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully slip the salmon into the pan. (The salmon should be completely submerged in the poaching liquid. If it isn’t, add a bit more water.) Cover the pan and poach the salmon for 5 minutes.
  4. Again using the spatula, lift the salmon to a plate. Carefully drain off almost all the poaching liquid from the pan, leaving only 1/4 cup (60 ml) in the pan. Remove and discard the green onions and ginger from the pan. Return the pan to medium-low heat and add the vinegar sauce. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Slip the salmon back into the pan and baste with the sauce. Continue to braise the salmon, basting frequently, until almost opaque throughout, or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 125 degrees Fahrenheit or a little above, about 8 minutes. The sauce will have reduced and thickened a little.
  5. Transfer the salmon to warmed dinner plates or shallow pasta bowls. Spoon the sauce around the fillets, dividing it evenly. Serve immediately.

More recipes from Salmon:

Boiled Sesame Salmon Bibimbap

From Salmon by Diane Morgan, photographs by Leigh Beisch (Chronicle Books, 2016).

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