Back

How to Butter Poach

Poaching in butter is a fantastic way to infuse delicate pieces of fish or seafood with a rich, buttery flavour, and it’s easier than you might think.

Chefs like The French Laundry’s Thomas Keller and former Masterchef Professionals contestant Rhett Willis favour the technique for lobster. They poach in Beurre Monté, a fancy French way of saying melted butter that stays emulsified, by slowly adding cubes of butter to hot water and whisking to ensure it stays liquid. In Rhett’s recipe for Salad of Butter Poached Lobster he adds xanthan gum to ensure the butter doesn’t split.

But there’s a much simpler, less cheffy way to do it home and we’ve seen a number of MasterChef contestants go down this route. Gently melt butter in a frypan over a low, gentle heat. Ensure it does not simmer too vigorously or boil. Add the fish or seafood and be careful not to overcook it. Once the flesh turns just opaque it’s ready.

You can use butter on its own, like Reynold Poernomo does in his recipe for Butter Poached Prawns with Prawn Vinaigrette, or you can flavour the butter with any number of herbs or spices. Amy Shields uses vanilla in her recipe for Vanilla Butter Poached Snapper but you could try saffron, garlic or ginger.