Cod Poached in Court Bouillon

Cod poached in water infused with bay leaves, garlic, salt, and olive oil.

Cod Poached in Court Bouillon
Elise Bauer

Court Bouillon. Sounds so sophisticated, doesn't it? According to my 1961 edition of Larousse Gastronomique, court bouillon is "an aromatic liquid in which meat, fish, and various vegetables are cooked," in other words, fancy salted water! (Ah the French, they make even the most mundane seem so elegant.)

Cod poached in court bouillon is a classic French dish, particularly in Provence. My Provencal sweetheart introduced me to this way of cooking cod, and I can't get enough of it. It's easy, fast, and the fish is perfectly and subtly flavored with the poaching liquid which has been infused with bay leaves, garlic, salt, and olive oil.

I've been serving it with yukon gold potatoes that have been boiled in the same fish poaching liquid, with a little dash of saffron for color.

Cod Poached in Court Bouillon

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Servings 4 servings

Saffron-hued potatoes are traditionally served in Provence with this court bouillon poached cod. You can make them at the same time in a separate pot in salted water (just add a pinch of saffron to the water), or you can make them in the water you used to poach the fish, while the fish rests, covered. The potatoes cook quickly (about 15 minutes for Yukon Golds or waxy potatoes). If you cook the potatoes in the poaching liquid, the fish will still be warm when the potatoes are done, but not hot. Cod prepared this way is often served slightly warm.

As always with fish or seafood, pick the freshest possible at the market. The fish's flesh should glisten, it should not look tired or dry. It should have a fresh, not a fishy, smell.


Poached cod:

  • 2 quarts water

  • 1 tablespoon salt

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 pounds cod fillets (or other firm white fish, not sole), cut to fit the pan

  • Lemon, for garnish

Optional side of saffron potatoes:

  • 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks (peel on or off, your choice)

  • Salt

  • Pinch saffron


  1. Make the court bouillon:

    Put water, salt, garlic, bay leaves, and olive oil into 4 to 5 quart pot and bring to a hard boil. Boil for several minutes, to infuse the water with the bay leaves and garlic. You should be able to smell the aroma of the garlic.

    simmer court bouillon
    Elise Bauer
  2. Simmer the cod:

    Rinse the cod fillets and place them in the boiling water. Return the water to a simmer (this should take 2 to 3 minutes). Simmer for an additional 2 minutes, less or more depending on the thickness of the fillets.

    simmer cod in court bouillon
    Elise Bauer
  3. Remove cod, cover, and let rest:

    Using a slotted spoon, remove the fillets to a plate when they are almost cooked through. They should still be a little translucent in the center, because they will continue to cook in their residual heat as they sit on the plate.

    Cover with foil. Let rest for 5 minutes before serving, or if you are making the optional potatoes, let rest until the potatoes are done.

  4. Cook potatoes (optional):

    Place a pinch of saffron in the water that was used to cook the fish. Add the potatoes and return the water to a simmer.

    Simmer for 15 minutes or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Drain. Sprinkle potatoes with additional salt if desired.

    Serve fish with a slice of lemon.

Cod Poached in Court Bouillon
Elise Bauer
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
319 Calories
6g Fat
16g Carbs
54g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4
Amount per serving
Calories 319
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6g 7%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 125mg 42%
Sodium 1786mg 78%
Total Carbohydrate 16g 6%
Dietary Fiber 5g 17%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 54g
Vitamin C 92mg 459%
Calcium 94mg 7%
Iron 2mg 12%
Potassium 792mg 17%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. In cases where multiple ingredient alternatives are given, the first listed is calculated for nutrition. Garnishes and optional ingredients are not included.