In French, à la nage means “in the swim,” and the classic definition of nage is a stock flavored with vegetables, white wine and herbs, and typically used to poach seafood, especially fish. This broth can be served as a light sauce at the same time with the main dish.
Because the seafood is not fully submerged in the broth, this technique combines both steaming and poaching. Both cooking methods are healthy, as liquid brings the heat into the food instead of oil and fat. And steaming allows the seafood to come out tender and soft while, at the same time, the poaching from the nage broth flavors the seafood, herbs and vegetables—it's the best of both worlds.
For budding home chefs, it’s an easy cooking method that anyone can follow as it mainly involves only one pan and easily sourced ingredients. For people who are apprehensive of the fishy smell of seafood, the nage method of poaching in a pan slowly ensures that this smell is mostly eliminated.
1. Sauté vegetables, such as garlic, onions, fennel and celery, in oil or butter until the mixture turns transparent.
2. Add a poaching mixture of white wine, water and fish stock to the pot.
3. Gently lower the fish into the broth. The fish should only be partially submerged.
4. Bring the broth to a simmer, cover the pot and continue cooking slowly.
5. When the fish is fully cooked, the dish is ready.