Poached Cod with Parsley Sauce

poached cod with parsley sauce
Photo: James Baigrie

Creamy parsley sauce -- here, over cod -- is an old English favorite. The herb is stirred in at the end, so it maintains its vibrant flavor and color. This main dish is delicious served with boiled potatoes or rice.


  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 1 strip lemon peel (3 inches)

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • ¼ cup plus 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (about 2 lemons)

  • ½ cup whole milk

  • 4 cod fillets (5 ounces each), skinned

  • ½ cup homemade or store-bought fish or vegetable stock

  • Coarse salt

  • ¾ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus sprigs for garnish

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives


  1. Melt butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add flour; whisk until a paste forms. Reduce heat to low; cook, whisking, 2 minutes. Whisking constantly, pour in milk in a slow, steady stream; whisk until incorporated. Whisk in stock. Add 1/2 teaspoon salt, and cook, whisking occasionally, 10 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand 10 minutes to thicken slightly. Stir in parsley and chives.

  2. Meanwhile, bring 1 1/2 quarts water, the lemon peel, 1/4 cup lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil in a medium saute pan or other wide straight-sided pan. Place fillets in liquid (do not crowd). Return to a boil, then immediately turn off the heat. Let stand until just cooked through, about 10 minutes.

  3. Reheat sauce over medium-low heat, if necessary, and add remaining 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Gently lift fillets from liquid with a slotted spatula; place a fillet on each of four plates. Spoon one-quarter of sauce over each serving, and garnish with a parsley sprig.

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