I discovered tea poaching a couple years ago when searching for a foolproof way to prepare fish that would keep it moist and succulent. I made it a few times when I lived in Iowa, but had my real breakthrough the last time my partner was touring with his band. I was at home pondering what to cook that would be really special and chase away my blues, and it dawned on me: I had an intense craving for salmon. I had to have it right then.
Even though we were as landlocked as you can get, we were very lucky to live near Iowa City’s co-op, which has a surprisingly well-stocked selection of fresh seafood. They also have an incredible produce section, which on that particular day had the most succulent buttercrunch lettuce I had ever seen. Unable to resist its charms, I bought the lettuce along with the salmon and brought them both home. While I was poaching the salmon and cooking some rice, it occurred to me that I could wrap these things in the lettuce, which tastes delicious and has the added bonus of keeping me from dirtying a fork (not a fan of washing dishes).
When Chris got home, I told him about my tasty dinner and he was disappointed that he wasn’t there to partake. We both forgot about the incident until I was shopping for cold-weather seeds to plant now that the Florida summer has passed. I bought seeds for all sorts of greens, root veggies, and peas. While hunting through the offerings I landed on the page for buttercrunch lettuce and remembered this recipe. It was so delicious when I made it before that I thought it would be even better if I grew the lettuce myself and plucked it out of the ground mere moments before being eaten. And so, seeds were ordered, and a few weeks later I have some little lettuce plants that I eagerly await to wrap around some delicious fish. I made this alongside jasmine rice last time I prepared it, but you could use any rice you prefer.
Tea Poached Salmon
5 cups water
3 English Breakfast tea bags
2 pieces star anise
1 tbsp dried orange peel
1 bay leaf
2 salmon fillets
-Place all ingredients but salmon in a deep skillet and simmer for 5-7 minutes.
-Add salmon fillets, and poach for about 25 minutes or until cooked through.
-Cut or flake fillets into bite-sized pieces and roll in a lettuce leaf, with or without rice.