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The term "Poach"

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
For the past 2 days, my husband and I have been battling over the term "poach."

Now, I know that poaching means something that is cooked in a hot liquid (water or stock, etc..), and anything cooked with hot fat is not poaching.

We recently saw a couple of recipes in reference to "oil poaching." Now, this method supposedly uses a large amount of fat, like olive oil, usually with a piece of fish submerged in it. The oil is kept at a moderately low temperature, so I don't think it would be considered frying. I became a bit upset and frustrated that I couldn't find a satisfactory definition of "poaching." Everything I have read says "something cooked in hot liquid," but it never says, "But not hot fat."

My husband thinks that by following these definitions, it doesn't rule out the idea that fat can be used.

Questions:

1. If using hot fat at a low low temperature to cook something, is it still called "frying?" I've discovered the term "velveting" but I think that refers to the dredging involved.

2. If something is submerged in a large amount of oil and slowly cooked, can the word "poached" be used? I know that many people will understand what the recipe means when it is used, but is it correct? An analogy would be "baked chicken." Now, you can't really bake chicken, but this is commonly thrown around and widely understood.

What do you find people think?
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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post #2 of 11
Poaching has nothing to do with the liquid used, but the everything to do with the temperature. The actual degrees vary from liquid to liquid, but a poach is just right under simmering. You won't see any bubbles, but a little spiral "tornado" in the liquid.
post #3 of 11
Technically speaking poaching is totally submerging foods in a liquid at temperatures between 160/180 degree's

When you make confit, it is a type of poaching because it falls into the above definition, but it is fat.In Spain, southern France, Italy etc you will find yellow fin olive oil "poached" it is not frying because of the temperature being so long. I tell my students when I teach them confit to think of the item being cooked is in a nice hot bath.
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #4 of 11
good way to think about it

poaching is a moist heat cooking method. as i told otehr student good ways to think about it is the texture that is comes out in

deep frying even though cooked in a liquid comes out crunchy,

something poached is nice and soft.
post #5 of 11
What they said - it doesn't have to be in water - think about pears/fruit poached in wine -now that sure ain't just water :) It's the temperature of whatever liquid you happen to be using, oil, water, milk, wine, stock etc. That temperature is when the liquid is smiling at you, but not quite laughing.

As for velveting - yes it involves egg whites and cornflour generally (very broad definition there), letting it sit for a while, then usually either stir or deep frying. Say with chicken, pork, seafood etc.
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replies.

DC- Yes, I agree that wine isn't water, but it is definitely not fat. Thanks for the opinions!

But, I guess what I really want to know is, is it an opinion, or a definition?
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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post #7 of 11
Remember highschool chemistry? Melted fat or oil is a liquid. By all the chemistry definitions of the word about moving molecules and such. Just like melted ice is a liquid.

I hate to break it to you but you can poach in oil. Poaching is, as stated above, a moist-heat technique that uses convection heat to transfer the heat from the liquid (whatever that liquid may be including fat or alcohol, or stock, or melted sugar etc...)to the item being cooked. at a gentle simmer around 160/180 degrees.

However... With the exception of some confits I am not sure why you would want to poach something in oil/fat. The low slower temps mean the products will soak up a lot of oil, and it is not the most effective or healthy way to cook. Besides there is no flavor transfer.

Frying is a dry heat cooking method, for this to happen the oil must be above 375 and therefore it creates an instant skin when it toches the uncooked product. The transfer of heat is then considered "dry" because the product does not soak up the oil (if it does the temp is wrong)

What do you mean you can't "bake" a chicken. In the culinary world the term "baking" and "roasting" mean the same as far as technique go. It means to surround an item with dry heated air in a closed environment. True, "baking" usually refers to fish, fruits, vegetables, starches, breads, and pastries, and Roasting usually referes to meat and poultry. The words mean the same technique and even in a professional kitchen they are interchanged.

Something to keep in mind. Most recipes and cooking articles published for a popular audience aren't written at the most technical level. They are intended to be worded so that even people with the most basic of expereince can be sucessfull. Rarely are cooking terms or recipes consistant or standardized in termenology, technique, or even dish names sometimes they are even just plain wrong.

If you are truly interested in the standardized and codified cooking terms look at some professional texts. "The Food Lover's Companion" is an excellent reference for questions, arguments, and bets like this.
"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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"Just can't wait to get on the road again."
Willie Nelson
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post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the clarification.

I generally used Larousse Gastronomique and Professional Cooking/On Cooking for my references. I'll check out that book, and look up the def for "poaching."
:)

So, what is the purpose of oil poaching at a low temperature? It doesn't result in a skin; what are the benefits?

About the term "bake," I suppose I was just regurgitating what I learned in school. I was told that it was used incorrectly. I've never actually looked at the definitions before, but I can't find any evidence that it is exclusively for leavened products.
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
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post #9 of 11
When we do nicoise salads we poach our tuna in olive oil with garlic, lemon zest, thyme, peppercorns etc.... If done right it will produce a product far superior to anything in a can at a reasonable price. Flavor and texture you can control. That's the benefit of oil poaching. Ever butter poached shrimp or lobster?
Keep those fires burnin'
 
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Keep those fires burnin'
 
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post #10 of 11
Gladyace, if you took that tuna out of season you wouldn't have to cook it, cuz it would already be poached.:rolleyes:

Sorry. But I've been waiting, with semi-baited breath, for somebody to give me that opening.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #11 of 11
Actually, isn't it BATED breath....?

Oh, nevermind.
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