Salmon in Pastry
This makes a beautiful, showy dish for Easter lunch – and can be prepared well ahead and frozen if it makes things easier. Traditionally this is made using a whole salmon fillet (and called Salmon en Croute) but as I could only get individual salmon pieces I used those instead, which work just as well with a little shaping, as you’ll see, and means everyone gets slices of the same thickness.
- 1 salmon fillet (around 850g) or 6 individual pieces
- 1kg ready-made puff pastry (2 x 500g is fine)
- A little flour for dusting
- Beaten egg for glazing
- 25g butter
For the stuffing
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 175g chestnut mushrooms, chopped
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 100g basmati rice, cooked
- A handful each of dill and flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 2 tbsps capers, rinsed and chopped
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 2 medium eggs, hard boiled and chopped
For the sauce
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped
- 125ml dry white wine or chicken stock
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 bunch fresh dill chopped (around 3 tbsps)
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 125ml double cream
- 75g butter, roughly divided in half
- pinch cayenne pepper
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- a little cornflour
1. Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion for a few minutes until translucent. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 5 minutes, then stir in the turmeric and cook for a minute before adding the remaining stuffing ingredients. Allow to cool.
2. If using separate salmon fillets, arrange them on a work surface or chopping board and trim and rearrange as necessary to achieve a rough fish shape.
3. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. On a work surface lightly dusted with flour, roll out half the pastry to a rectangle large enough to take the fish, roughly the thickness of a pound coin. Transfer the pastry to the baking tray and arrange the fish on top. Pile the stuffing mix evenly on top.
4. Brush away any bits of dropped stuffing, then brush around the fish on the pastry with beaten egg for sticking. Roll out the remaining pastry to a size large enough to cover the fish and drape it over the top. Trim, leaving a small border, and press the pastry edges together to seal.
5. Cut an eye and pupil with small round cutters and stick to the fish with a little water. Mark the gill with a larger round cutter then use one side of a small one to mark scales – you can be quite firm, and don’t worry if you occasionally cut through the pastry. Cut a tail from pastry trimmings and mark with a knife. Find a place for it on the baking tray – you can add it to the fish later.
To freeze, wrap cling film around the salmon and the baking tray, using several thicknesses. Freeze for up to 3 months.
To bake the fish from fresh, pre-heat the oven to 200C (180C fan assisted, gas mark 6). Glaze the salmon and tail (still separate, unless you have a very wide oven) with beaten egg and bake for 35-40 minutes.
To bake from frozen, pre-heat the oven to 180C (165C fan , gas 4). Brush the frozen fish with beaten egg and bake for 65minutes. Turn up the oven to 220C (200C fan, gas 7) and cook for a further 10 minutes until piping hot and golden.
To make the sauce
1. Add garlic, wine or chicken stock, lemon juice, and dill to a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and boil for about 2 minutes.
2. Reduce heat and whisk in mustard and cream. Continue to cook until it thickens, making sure to whisk the entire time.
3. Remove from heat and whisk in pieces of butter one at a time. Add cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. (If it is still a little runny, cheat by mixing a teaspoonful of cornflour with cold water and adding it to the sauce, stirring over heat until it thickens)
Carefully lift the fish off the baking tray and transfer to a serving dish. I left mine on the baking paper, which I trimmed away from round the fish, as I wasn’t confident I could slide it off without damage. Position the tail. Pour the warm sauce into a sauce boat and serve separately (in spite of my having made the beautiful sauce, can you guess what my step grandson decided to add?… Ketchup!). Slice into portions, and you will see the pretty layers.