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I recently came across a recipe for fish poached in milk. I've never heard of this technique, and am skeptical of its effect (vs. water), so it sounds wasteful to cook fish in 4 cups of milk only to discard the milk afterwards.

After a quick Google search, I found that it's done in some cuisines. So I'm wondering what, if any, effect does poaching fish in milk have?

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3 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The milk sugars will add a sweetness to the dish. Also, after the fish comes out, the milk can be reduced/thickened to make a bechemel sauce.

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The milk will also help neutralize the smell of the fish cooking as well. –  Brendan Dec 7 '12 at 0:23
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Found this link for you...

The Art of Poaching Fish

Milk - Milk is good for poaching flatfish, such as dover sole, turbot and halibut. Like a quality enamel, it makes the texture of the fish more resilient and adds an extra "shine" to chalky white fish.

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Pursuing taste, some chefs aren't really concerned about wasting a couple cups of milk. Adding milk makes the fish tastes more tender and more "gentle" than just adding sugar.

However, you don't really need that if you're not going for it or you think it's an absolute waste. In my opinion, the taste of some fish is rich enough. You can get milk-like soup from cooking fish with water. That tastes a lot better than milk, at least to me.

To remove the odor of some fish, you can let it sit with ginger and alcohol. Both works well.

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It's not wasted if it has a significant effect on the final product. My concern was that it may have no or negligible effect. –  Jeff Axelrod Dec 7 '12 at 1:44
    
Regarding tenderisation consider the top answer to this question which indicates that milk will not tenderise meat. –  Chris Steinbach Dec 7 '12 at 1:46
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