I have a great relationship with my fishmonger. Fishermans Catch in Clogherhead is a family run business and all white fish is caught from their own trawler the Argonaut. They also sell amazing crab, shellfish, farmed salmon and much more. They also take orders – I got a lovely piece of fresh tuna before Christmas.
Every week I will visit the shop and get some bits and pieces for dinner either at the weekend or during the week. Most times I visit I will either run the 4 mile loop to the shop on the roads, or I will hike over the head – both with the dog in tow to get something nice. There is something reassuring about running for your dinner. Literally!
On one of my last visits I picked up a really large (and very nicely priced) piece of salmon. I had been craving Salmon en Croute for a while but I had no puff pastry in the house. Never one to let that stand in the way of a good dinner, I had a flick through my cook books and had a fair idea that the Rachel Allen Bake book would be the one to provide a suitable recipe.
I will be honest and admit that I baulked at the amount of butter in the puff pastry recipe. I couldn’t quite bring myself to use a full pound of butter so I had a flick through the pages and found a recipe for Flaky Pastry which only calls for 325g of butter! Score.
I also subbed out some of the flour from strong white to mostly wholemeal. While this will not balance out the butter, it will make the pastry a little healthier.
Now the pastry is hard work. It takes a couple of hours to make. You need to follow the recipe carefully but the end result is so worth it. It is crisp, flaky, tasty and rich from the butter.
To make the pastry you will need;
500g strong white flour (or 100g strong white flour and 400g strong wholemeal flour), pinch of salt, 325g cold butter, 175ml cold water.
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl and divide the butter into 4 equal parts. Keeping the rest of the butter in the fridge rub one part into the flour and salt mixture. Then slowly mix in the cold water until a soft but not sticky dough forms. Cover the dough with some cling film and place in the fridge on a baking tray for 30 minutes.
Take a second portion of butter out of the fridge and cut into small pieces. Sprinkle your working area with some flour and roll out the pastry to a 16inch long x 8 inch wide piece of pastry. Place the pastry so that the narrow edge is facing you. Brush any excess flour off the dough and dot the butter on the nearest 2/3 of the dough.
Take the end with no butter on it and fold it over one third of the pastry with butter on it. Then gently fold the rest of the pastry over the top and turn the pastry 45 degrees.
Roll the pastry away from you to a large rectangle again and fold in three again. Cover with cling again and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Using the third portion of the butter, repeat the previous steps and again with the last portion of butter. Cover again and leave for about 30 minutes before using for your pie or parcel.
To make your salmon parcel, you will need a large fillet of salmon (or a couple of smaller fillets to make individual parcels) Please buy your fish from your fishmonger if you have access to one. They will be able to tell you how to best fillet, bone, cook and prepare your fish. They are also a font of knowledge of what to try and what is good with different types of fish. Plus most fishmongers are individually owned small business and it is nice to support small business owners.
Right, now that my public service announcement is over, you will need to skin your salmon – or get the fishmonger to do it. Lay the fish to once side and season every so slightly.
You will also need;
1 large onion chopped, 1 clove of garlic crushed, a handful of mushrooms chopped finely and a bunch of asparagus.
Finely chop your onion and mushrooms and crush the garlic.
Heat a large heavy based pan and add a little olive oil- about a tablespoon. Add the onions and cook until softened. Add the garlic and mushrooms and allow to cook until softened. Set to one side and allow to cool a little. You can prepare the parcel early in the day and place in the oven when you want to finish it.
Roll out the pastry to your desired size – depending on the size of your fillet of fish. Make sure that the pastry is even in its thickness as you do not want it to tear when packing it up. In the middle of the pastry, place a generous layer of the mushroom and onions. On top of this lay your asparagus top to tail. On top of this lay your skinned and pin boned salmon.
Then, carefully take one side of the pastry and fold over the salmon. Then fold the other side and using some beaten egg as a “glue” to stick the pastry. Trim the ends of the parcel making sure that you have enough to seal the parcel. Now don’t worry if your Christmas presents aren’t perfect under the tree each year, you will not be marked on your corners. Tuck the ends in and use some more “glue” to seal the edges. And now, to make it fun, turn the parcel onto a parchment lined baking sheet so that your edges are hidden. Brush with some beaten egg to glaze the pastry.
When you are ready, place the Salmon parcel in a preheated oven – about 180 – 190 for 40 minutes. To check that the inside of the parcel is cooked, insert a knife tip into the thickest part of the parcel. Take it out and place on the back of your hand to make sure that it is piping hot. I am sure that there is a much more scientific way of testing (like a thermometer) but that’s just the way I roll.
When cooked, place on a chopping board and using a serrated knife cut the end off. Discard the end piece and slice the parcel into your portions.
Serve with the vegetables of your choice and a light cream sauce.
And a glass of wine
It is also excellent served cold the following day with a salad.
PS- I am loving the new Masterchef Format. And I adore the fact that the finalists had the chance to cook with Tom Kitchin. He is my ultimate chef crush. I *heart* him and my lovely friend Inez has eaten in his restaurant The Kitchin and said it is divine.