Bain Marie Method of Cooking Salmon

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A bain-marie is akin to a double boiler. A bottom pan filled with water is heated. A top pan is placed into the bottom pan allowing the water to reach up the sides of the top pan. Food is placed into the top pan and slowly heats via the hot water that swirls around and below it.

It is a gentle cooking method most often used for melting chocolate or making custard. A steamer is created when the top pan has a lid. This is a healthy way of preparing any fish, especially salmon.

Prepare the Salmon

Purchase fresh salmon and cook it the same day. Either buy a whole piece of fish or have the fishmonger slice it into individual steaks if you are using a small bain-marie. Wash the salmon and dry with paper towels. Pick out any visible bones with fish bone tweezers.

Season the Steaks

Seasoning is where your creativity comes into the preparation of the salmon. A basic seasoning includes white pepper, fresh dill, lemon slices and dry white wine. Lay the steaks out on the counter with a large piece of foil underneath each steak. Season to taste; sprinkle a small amount of white wine over the steak, place a lemon slice on each steak and top with a sprig of dill. Wrap the salmon into foil packets.

Steaming in a Bain-marie

Heat the water in the bottom pan until boiling. Turn down to a gentle simmer. Place the salmon steak packets upright in the top pan. Do not crowd the steaks. Cover and steam for 20 minutes. Remove a packet and gently open to make sure the fish is completely cooked and flaky. If the steaks are not completely steamed, return them to the bain-marie for another two minutes.


Serve the salmon on a platter or plate the steaks individually. Take the steamed dill sprig from the salmon. Remove the pits from freshly sliced lemon rounds and place them on top of the steamed fish. Put a fresh dill sprig on top of the lemon. Slice additional lemon rounds just to the centre and twist to further decorate the plate.


Fabricate a bain-marie by using a baking dish and baking rack. Put the baking rack into the dish and fill with enough water to just reach the bottom of the baking rack. Place the baking dish on top of the stove and heat the water to boiling. Remove from the heat and quickly place the wrapped salmon, wide side down, on the baking rack. Cover with foil and place in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes. Check for doneness and serve.