Pesce Lesso

Poached Fish

Pesce lesso is an Italian household stand-by for when one is feeling unwell or recovering from an illness. Light and tasty, it is important to take the time to prepare the stock in which you are going to poach the fish. Generally speaking, white fish such as cod, haddock, or whiting, or fish such as trout and salmon are best for poaching. Oily fish, such as sardines or mackerel, respond best to broiling or baking. You can also add a glass or two of dry white wine to the basic stock for extra flavor.


  • 1 carrot, quartered
  • 1 small onion or leek, quartered
  • 1 celery stalk, quartered
  • 5 fresh parsley sprigs
  • ½ lemon
  • 2 pinches of salt
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 whole white fish or other fish suitable for poaching, such as trout, weighing about lb


  1. Place all the vegetables, the parsley, and lemon in a fish kettle or a large saucepan that is wide enough to take the length of the fish.
  2. Cover generously with cold water. Add the salt and peppercorns. Cover, bring to a boil slowly and leave to simmer for about 20 minutes.
  3. Clean, gut, and scale the trout. Wash thoroughly under cold running water, then place in the fish kettle or saucepan.
  4. Cover and simmer slowly for about 10 minutes, then turn off the heat. Leave the fish in the fish kettle, covered with the lid, until the water is tepid.
  5. Remove the fish carefully from the water, drain, and arrange in a dish. Serve warm or cold with hollandaise sauce, mayonnaise, or lemon juice and olive oil.

To Serve

hollandaise sauce, mayonnaise, or lemon juice and olive oil