Farmed salmon is relatively cheap and readily available, making it the perfect choice for a main course if you’re on a budget and planning a lazy gathering.
But rather than poaching it, you could, for very little extra effort bake the salmon wrapped in a blanket of puff pastry. Do this and you automatically elevate the salmon to dinner party status.
The beauty of this dish is that it can be prepared up to 6 hours in advance, saving you from last minute fuss in the kitchen. All you do is stick the salmon parcel in the oven for half an hour or so, giving you time to relax and chat with your guests.
Salmon en croute is especially good served with a creamy sorrel sauce. If you haven’t come across sorrel before, you’re in for a treat. This much under used herb, has tart, citrus overtones that cut through the salmon’s oily richness, complimenting it perfectly.
Salmon En Croute Recipe
Serving Size: 4
Preparation & Cooking Time: 1 hour
Effort Level: Easy
Shelf Life: 2 days if refrigerated
1 salmon side
75g unsalted butter at room temperature
500g pack puff pastry
10g fresh dill
30g fresh sorrel leaves
60g fresh sorrel leaves
100ml dry white wine or dry vermouth
120ml fish or chicken stock
100ml double cream (heavy)
N.B. If you can’t find sorrel, use basil and grated lemon zest in the butter. For the sauce, add a splash of lemon juice, a little zest, plus chopped dill just before serving and tweak to your own personal taste. The sauce can be made in advance (up to the final stage before adding the sorrel) then reheated at which point add the sorrel.
Chopping board and sharp knife
1 small bowl
1 medium saucepan
Here’s What You Do:
N.B: If using an entire salmon, leave the fillets whole and when sandwiching together, lay the thinner edge of one fillet over the fatter edge of the fillet underneath and bake slightly longer.
Pre-heat the oven to 200C/400F/ Gas 6
Start off by making the herb butter. Place the soft butter in a bowl. Finely chop the sorrel and tip onto the butter, season with salt and pepper and mix well to combine.
Remove the salmon skin if the fishmonger hasn’t done it for you. Lay the salmon skin side up. Make an incision across the base of the tail then secure the salmon tail with one hand and gently peel the skin away with the other using a knife to help coax it along (don’t rip it or the flesh will come away too.)
With the skin removed, turn the salmon over then run your fingers down the centre of the fish, feeling for pin bones, they start at the top and run half way down the fillet, then pinch them out with your finger tips or use a pair of tweezers.
Pat the salmon fillet dry with kitchen towel and cut off the narrow tail part (use it for something else) then cut the remaining fillet in half width-ways.
Spread the herb butter over one half of the salmon then lay the other half on top and sandwich them together. Lay the narrow end over the wide end, so both ends have the same thickness.
Dust your work surface with flour and roll the pastry out thinly using the salmon as a guide to the size, then place the salmon in the centre of the pastry.
Beat the egg and brush around the pastry. Bring up the two longer pastry sides and press together forming a seam then fold up the shorter pastry edges to create a neat parcel. Turn the salmon parcel over so the seam is underneath and place on a baking tray.
Make a criss cross pattern over the pastry using the back of a small knife, then brush with egg wash. Season with freshly ground salt and black pepper. (At this stage you can either return the salmon parcel to the refrigerator until needed or cook in the oven.)
Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.
For the sauce, chop the shallots very finely and boil in the chicken/fish stock with the vermouth or wine until it has reduced to about 4 tablespoons (this will take approximately 20 minutes). Now add the cream and continue to boil. Season with salt and pepper and take off the heat when the sauce has thickened. Thinly slice the sorrel leaves into thin ribbons and stir into the sauce allowing them to wilt in the heat rather than cooking them further.
Serve the sauce with the salmon.