Why It Works
- Cooking fish à la nage is an incredibly easy and quick way to prepare fish, done all in one pan and then served directly from there.
- This method offers the benefits of both steaming and poaching, gently cooking and flavoring the fish in an aromatic broth.
- Sautéing aromatic vegetables like onion, fennel, garlic, and celery before adding the poaching liquid amplifies flavors.
The French preparation of fish à la nage (rhymes with garage) is similar to poaching, but you're not cooking that fish in just any liquid. You're creating a delicate broth, flavored with aromatics and the fish itself. Intrigued? Try this summery and delicate salmon preparation, or this flavor-bomb Thai-style cod with coconut milk, lime, and lemongrass.
Cooking fish "in the swim" (approximate translation) is incredibly easy, and gives you the benefit of poaching and steaming to gently cook the fish and infuse it with flavor.
A lot of classic nage recipes include shellfish, so this one is a nod in that direction. The broth is white wine–based, then topped up with water. In all nage recipes, the fish gently flavors the broth as it cooks, but here we're doubling down on that: When the clams open, they release their juices into the broth, flavoring it even further. In some ways, this one is like a clear chowder, done à la minute, as all à la nage preparations should be.
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 small fennel bulb, halved, cored, and diced, plus fronds for garnish (optional)
2 medium cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
1 cup dry white wine
2 cups water
4 (6-ounce) skinless halibut fillets
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 dozen littleneck clams, scrubbed
1 tablespoon chopped dill
In a large, straight-sided sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat until foaming. Add onion, diced fennel, garlic, and celery and cook, stirring, until vegetables are softened and onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.
Add wine and cook, stirring, until reduced by about half and raw alcohol smell has mostly cooked off, about 4 minutes. Add water. Season halibut fillets with salt and pepper, then nestle in cooking liquid; they should be partially submerged. Nestle clams in the liquid around the halibut fillets. Bring liquid to a simmer, then cover pan and lower heat. Cook, covered, until clams are open and halibut is just cooked through and registers 135°F (57°C) on an instant-read thermometer, about 5 minutes.
Using a slotted spatula, transfer fish and clams to bowls. Whisk dill and remaining butter into broth until butter is fully melted and incorporated. Season broth with salt and pepper, then ladle all around fish and clams in the bowls along with the vegetables. Garnish with fennel fronds, if desired, and serve right away.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 14g||18%|
|Saturated Fat 8g||39%|
|Total Carbohydrate 8g||3%|
|Dietary Fiber 1g||5%|
|Total Sugars 3g|
|Vitamin C 11mg||57%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|