Jacque Pepin’s Poached Snapper with Fresh Tomatoes and Cucumber Tournes

Simplicity is bliss, especially when preparing dinner.  Often simplicity can translate to boring or tasteless, but when a recipe utilizes the fresh flavors of herbs, aromatics and summer produce, the recipe becomes simple to prepare and complex in flavor.  Which is what I’m sure Jacque Pepin had in mind when he created this decadent snapper dish.  

I’ve tasted many poached fish dishes and I have to say poaching fish hasn’t always been my favorite method of preparation.  However, this recipe includes the perfect mix of fresh ingredients, poached in a delicious dry white wine creating a fish recipe that is full of fresh clean flavors and truly enjoyable to the palate. 

It can be served simply with the sauce of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers or served with roasted little red potatoes.  You can find a basil lemon roasted red potato recipe under the “sides” category in this blog. 

Keep dinner simple… and enjoy the flavors of life.   Happy Cooking!

2 servings


1 pat of unsalted butter

¼ cup finely chopped shallots

12 oz. Red snapper filets (have your fishmonger remove the bones)

Sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper

1-2 cups dry white wine

1 teaspoon fresh chopped English thyme (or lemon thyme)

4 Roma (or fresh summer) tomatoes, peeled, seeded, squeezed and coarsely chopped

Chopped fresh Italian parsley

For the sauce

2 teaspoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons flour

¼ cup heavy cream

Squeeze of fresh lemon

Serve with Cucumbers Tournes (recipe below) and garnish with chopped fresh Italian parsley


Rub the bottom of a large skillet with a pat of butter.  Scatter the shallots in the bottom of the pan and lay the fillets on top.

Pour the wine over the fish and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Scatter the tomato pieces and thyme over the fillets. (If you wish, fit a paper cover into the pan, buttered side down.)

Cover the pan, and bring the liquid to a steady, very gentle simmer, almost a boil; poach 3
to 4 minutes for thin fillets, or more for thicker fillets.

Pierce the center of the fillet with a sharp knife to make sure that the flesh is opaque, or
cooked throughout.

Making the sauce

Transfer the fillets with a slotted spoon or spatula to a gratin or baking dish, and spoon the tomato pieces over them. Place the dish in a warm spot on the stove or in a very low oven, with the paper cover on top if you have one.

Mix the butter and flour together in a small bowl to make a smooth paste (beurre manié).

Bring the liquid in the poaching pan to a boil, then scoop up the paste with the tip of the whisk and rapidly stir it into the liquid until completely incorporated.

Pour in the cream, whisk to blend, and boil for a minute  or two to thicken. Add any fish juices that have accumulated around the fillets and cook a few moments more, until the sauce is thick enough to coat a spoon.

Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper as needed.  Squeeze fresh lemon into the sauce, about a teaspoon or two.

Place the fish and tomatoes on a platter and ladle the sauce over the top.  Garnish with the cucumbers and chopped parsley.  Serve immediately.

Cucumber Tournes


1 large cucumber, about 8 inches

Sea salt

1 tablespoon butter


Remove the rounded ends of the cucumber, and then slice it crosswise into 3 equal sections, each about 2 inches long.

Cut each of the sections lengthwise into quarters, so you have 12 wedge-shaped pieces.

With a sharp paring knife, “turn” each wedge: first cut away the seeds on one side, then remove the skin in smooth curving peels. Make sure not to remove too much of the flesh; if you do not feel proficient enough with a knife, use a vegetable peeler.

Now shape each piece, so that it has slightly rounded sides and tapered ends. This can be daunting the first time you try it, so just hang in there and carve the cucumber as best you can.  It’ll still taste fabulous no matter how it looks!

In a saucepan just large enough to hold the cucumber pieces in one layer, bring to the boil 1/4 cup of water with 1/8 teaspoon of salt.

Add all the cucumbers, cover the pan, and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

Pour off any water remaining in the pan, add the butter and a large pinch of salt and cover again, and melt the butter over very low heat. Shake the pan so the cucumbers are very well coated with butter and turn off the heat. Leave them in the covered pan until needed, and briefly reheat before serving if necessary.


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