Cooking fish in the Crock-Pot gives it a creamy, silky texture that’s difficult to replicate in oven baking or grilling. For fish, slow cooking doesn’t mean long cooking; the times are relatively short compared to other proteins such as chicken, beef or pork. These short cooking times are important; given fish’s delicate nature, it can be easy to accidentally overcook it.
Poaching fish in a Crock-Pot is surprisingly simple. Choose thicker, firmer fish such as salmon or halibut for poaching and ensure that you have plenty of liquid in the pot. Because the poaching liquid will come from the fish itself, no extra water or stock is needed. A little extra fat, such as olive oil, and any seasoning ingredients such as shallots, garlic, dill or lemon juice should be added along with the fish. Keep an eye on this technique; it should take no more than an hour in the Crock-Pot.
Baking in Foil
Baking fish in a Crock-Pot requires that you take the extra step of wrapping the fish in foil packets. Without the foil, fish tends to dry out and become tasteless. Wrap your fish in aluminum foil and include fresh ingredients such as dill, marjoram or citrus to add bright flavor to the fish. Once the fish has baked through, it can be flaked into a hash or curry, or serve it as a main dish with a veggie side. Save some steps by steaming the vegetables in the Crock-Pot alongside the foil-wrapped fish.
The best part about cooking fish stews in the Crock-Pot is the wide range of flavors you can create and the number of ingredients you can include. Wine, vegetables, shellfish and other proteins, such as chicken or pork, can mingle happily with curry paste, tomato sauce or a simple milk, butter and flour roux to produce a comforting dish. Cook the extra ingredients up to 4 hours and add your fish at the third hour of cooking to ensure that the fish remains moist and succulent.
Tips and Tricks
Crock-Pot temperatures can vary from machine to machine, so watch your fish closely the first time you attempt any new dish. Medium to medium-high are typically the best levels for fish: Too low and the fish will dry out, and too high will result in fish with gummy middles. Slowly bringing up the temperature can help you catch the fish at just the right window of doneness. If cooking with shellfish such as mussels, be sure to discard any that don’t open; these are not safe to eat.
References and ResourcesWashington Post: Fish in the Slow Cooker Goes Swimmingly
Joy of Cooking; Irma S. Rombauer, et al.
Betty Crocker: Slow Cooker Seafood Stew
New Observer: Slow Cooking Fish Brings Out Silky Texture
Make It Fast, Cook It Slow; Stephanie O'Dea
ResourcesThe Kitchn: Slow Cooker Poached Salmon
Find a Seafood Recipe: Fish in Tomato Sauce
Food and Wine: Best Slow Cooker Recipes
Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook; Beth Hensperger, Julie Kaufmann; 2005