Sea Trout parcels (or salmon, or trout, or….)

Sea Trout Parcels:

You can use quite a number of different fish here.  It is easy, quite quick, safe, doesn’t stink out the kitchen/house/flat and won’t break the bank.

Prep:           15 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins.

Course:        Lunch/Main/Supper/Dinner party

Serves:        As many as the number of fish pieces….

Rating:         2.  Easy.  Just have confidence and it’ll be great.

This method – en papillotte/en poche – is a favourite way to cook most types of fish.  See the ‘salmon in a dishwasher’ recipe for the ultimate fish parcel.

Find:

  • One portion of trout/salmon/sea trout/sea bream/sea bass/marckerel/whatever fish per person.  With or without skin but definitely without bones.
  • White wine – a splash, or perhaps a little vermouth instead, especially if you have the vermouth and don’t have fennel seeds…….
  • Lemon – or lemon juice from a bottle if pushed
  • A few fennel seeds….. perhaps up to 10 per parcel – be careful with them
  • Seasonings
  • A tiny splash of olive oil
  • Foil to make the parcels
  • Baking tray
  • Oven
  • Kitchen
  • Gas or electricity…..or wood….peat?

Method:

  • Set the oven to 200 dges C and switch it on (it helps….)
  • Rinse and pat dry the fish portions.
  • If cooking a whole fish on the bone, ensure that it has been gutted, washed and de-scaled fully and completely first.  Sea bream/sea trout especially.
  • Take a length of foil, longer than it is wide so that there is plenty of room for air inside the parcel, and lightly oil it in the middle.  Crimp up the corners to make a sort of tray – you don’t want the liquid contents to escape.
  • Place the fish portion into it, skin side down (whether it has skin or not).
  • Cut the lemon into slices and place a slice on each fish portion.  If it’s a whole fish, pop a bit into the cavity as well.  If you don’t have a lemon, you can use bottled lemon (or lime) juice instead.
  • Splash some white wine or vermouth over the fish.  Don’t drown it. (HA!  How can you drown a fish when it’s dead, eh…..don’t be silly, Colin!)
  • Sprinkle the fennel seeds evenly.
  • Season with a little salt (milled sea salt is best, but…..) and an amount  of freshly milled black pepper or 5 bais (See Tricks’n’Tips….)
  • Wish it a bonne voyage, and carefully fold in the ends and the top of the package.  It should be fairly securely sealed, but don’t get paranoid about it.  It’ll be in the oven, on a baking tray and won’t be jumping around a great deal, so it shouldn’t leak.
  • Put all packages onto the baking tray and pop into the middle of the oven and leave it for half an hour or so.  Not long enough to nip down t’pub, but long enough to crack a tinnie or pop a cork…….  But you have the rest of the meal to get ready, so have your tipple as you get a wiggle on…..
  • After 30 mins or so, take the baking tray out of the oven and put each parcel onto its own plate and let everyone oopen their own parcel.
  • This is lovely served with a nice, light Basmati/jasmine  rice, together with posh veg.  The sauce will be lovely, the fish gorgeous and the faces of the diners a picture….especially as their glasses will steam up when opening their parcels.
  • Oh yes, and have a bowl of cold water ready for them to plunge their scalded fingertips into as the resultant steam takes their skin off!

Ticklish Salmon & Sauce Bercy:

Ticklish Salmon & Sauce Bercy:

 

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      25 mins, plus stripping the skin & flaking afterwards

Course:        Snack/Lunch/Buffet

Serves:        As many as…..

Rating:         1:  Piscatorially easy

Find:

  • Salmon pieces
  • Butter
  • White wine if you haven’t drunk it all last night
  • Oil
  • Seasoning (including a twist of a chilli seed mill if poss)
  • Shallots
  • Chicken stock
  • Slices of lemon
  • Lemon juice
  • Oven dish
  • Foil?
  • Platter
  • Salad garnish as desired

Method:

  • Find an oven dish/tin/ big enough to take the salmon (or use two).
  • Take as many salmon pieces as you have (I had 8), place them skin side down in an oiled roasting tin or singly ‘en papillote’ (individually in foil packets). Add sea salt, ground black pepper and a few twists of the chilli pepper seed mill.
  • Pour in some white wine, drizzle (I HATE THAT CHEFY WORD – but I have to use it because it says it as it is, dammit!) extra virgin olive oil all over and then throw fresh thyme on top. Then put a thick slice of lemon on the top of each piece.
  • Close the oven tin with foil or close the foil packet.
  • Bake for half an hour on 180 C.
  • Sauce Bercy is a traditional French sauce. (Look it up on the net.)
  • My version is: Put just about too many roughly cut shallots (some almost whole) in a pan with olive oil, fry them off for a few mins, then add about three or four finely chopped cloves of garlic (how big is a clove of garlic….?……got any long bits o’string?) and white wine.
  • Also, add chicken stock. It’s up to you how you get your chicken stock – see Tricks’n’Tips for mine.
  • Salt and pepper can go in when the cauldron has been boiling for 5 mins, after the alcohol has burnt off (cos it’ll taste bitter till then) and cook for 20 mins on a rolling boil (in other words, just slightly bubbling away).
  • Serve the salmon next to a bunch of rocket, water cress & salad bits, with boiled new spuds and the Corbieres tomato salad that you know about, and the Sauce Bercy spooned over the top.

Yummy or what?

Yup….. YUMMY!

Flaky cold salmon:

Flaky cold salmon:

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      25 mins, plus stripping the skin & flaking afterwards

Course:        Snack/Lunch/Buffet

Serves:        As many as……

Rating:         1:  Piscatorially easy

Find:

  • Half a side of salmon
  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Water
  • White wine if you haven’t drunk it all last night
  • Oil
  • Seasoning
  • Lemon juice
  • Oven dish
  • Platter
  • Salad garnish as desired

Method:

  • Buy the salmon. (Half of a side will do for part of a buffet for 6 people.  A whole side will normally feed 6 for a main course or 8 for a fish course.  But you’re not into six course dinners yet, are you.

(Are you?  Cor!  You’d better come teach me!)

  • Find an oven dish/tin/ big enough to take the salmon (or use two, because it’s going to be flaked anyway, so nobody will spot where it has been cut!).
  • Oil the base lightly (to stop the skin sticking) and spread it about evenly. Put the salmon, skin down, into the dish/tin/whatever it is.  Put in milk & water/ milk & wine, whatever proportions you wish, to just about cover the salmon.
  • Plop a few bits of butter on top. How many?  Well, for this very technical question, there are two possible answers:
  • Twice as many as half.
  • Yeah, that’s right.
  • Put into a pre-heated oven at 180 degs C for 25 mins. Take out and lift (using two wide spatulas or a fish slice and a spatula – or two bits of plastic that have been lying in the drawer for years) the salmon onto a large plate, this time skin side up.
  • Tease the skin away from the flesh using a flat bladed knife and pull completely off. Discard the skin into the dog (you might as well get the most from your purchase – and the dog will most certainly be eager to co-operate).
  • Or cat.
  • Retain the poaching liquid for making a sauce for either this or another fish dish – it freezes well. See ‘Sauces’.
  • As the salmon cools, use a couple of knives to separate flakes. Look for and remove bones at the same time.  I like to make the flakes big’n’chunky.
  • Season well. Sprinkle the juice of a lemon/half a lemon (depending how lemony you like it) and then gently turn the flakes to distribute the seasonings/flavourings.
  • Lay out on a platter and garnish with salad leaves. Red salad leaves look particularly good.

Simple Salmon Steak:

Simple Salmon Steak:

Prep:           5 mins.

Cooking:      15 mins.

Course:        Main

Serves:        1

Rating:         2:  Easy

Find:

  • 1 salmon steak
  • Butter
  • Dried mixed herbs
  • Lemon juice from a bottle / a lemon
  • Splash of white wine?
  • Kitchen foil
  • Oven (baking) tray
  • Seasoning

Method:

  • Set the oven to preheat to gas mk 5 and don’t put anything in until it is up to temperature.
  • Place the buttered salmon steak, skin down on a piece of oiled kitchen foil in excess of 300 x 300, sprinkle on a few drops of water, dried mixed herbs and lemon juice – and a splash of white wine if you have it.
  • Season lightly and make a sealed parcel with lots of air in it – a really tightly sealed parcel.
  • Place the parcel on an oven tray and put into the oven for 15 minutes.
  • Take out of the oven and serve with lovely mint-boiled new spuds and frozen peas – but cooked, please, not still frozen.  
  • Taste and health on a plate.

Salmon Sandwich – with a difference:

Salmon Sandwich – with a difference:

As a cold, posh, summer lunchtime dish, this is simply a knock-out with a chilled rose wine.  

Hot it is also wonderful.

NOTE:  This does not have to use full sides of salmon.  As long as you can get pieces of similar size and shape, you could so this for as few as two people.  Use your brain to work it out.  It really is worth the effort.

Prep:           30 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins.

Course:        Lunch/Main

Serves:        According to size of fillets obtained, but a normal size of

2 complete sides would feed around 8 -12 people.

Rating:         4:  A little more challenging – but worth it.  Impressive but not over-costly.

Find:

  • 2 full-length salmon side fillets (from the same fish, as they are to be put on top of each other in a sandwich type of thing) – already pin-boned by the fishmonger
  • Fresh breadcrumbs (see Tricks’n’Tips)
  • Clove of garlic
  • Toasted pine-nuts (see Tricks’n’Tips for how to toast yer nuts, peeps)
  • Dried apricots
  • Butter
  • Seasonings
  • Couscous
  • Mayonnaise
  • A splash of white wine
  • Optional: fresh dill and/or parsley?
  • Kitchen foil
  • Mixing bowl & wooden spoon, etc
  • Oven (roasting) tin

Method:

  • Rinse the salmon sides and pat dry with kitchen roll. Place one fillet, skin side down on a piece of greaseproof paper or baking parchment, just lightly buttered to stop the salmon skin sticking to it.
  • Chop (or cut with scissors) the pieces of dried apricot into thin strips. Toast the pine nuts to bring out their flavour and, after they have cooled, just chop them randomly or give them a good smacking by means of a pestle & mortar.
  • Peel the garlic and chop it really finely. Do a batch of fresh breadcrumbs (see Tricks’n’Tips, as usual) and mix all those filling ingredients together with whatever seasoning you wish and just enough butter to hold it together – don’t go mad, there will be more added later.
  • Have you got fresh dill? Fresh parsley?  It would be nice for some to land in there, roughly chopped.  I know that you won’t have chervil; that would be brill too….. but as you haven’t got it, I don’t know why I mention it.  Remind me to make an appointment with my therapist.
  • Spread the mixture on the flesh side of one fillet. Put just a little more butter in small splodges along its length to add a little moisture and loveliness.
  • Season the flesh of the other fillet and place on top. Wrap the sandwich as though it’s a sandwich…. Ok, nuff-sed.
  • Place the packet in an oven tin and splash a little white wine into the tin as well. Put the foil over the top and seal around the edges.
  • Pre-heat the oven to gas mk 4 and pop it in for 20 minutes.
  • Take it out and close the oven door. Remove the foil, snip off the paper from the top and put the salmon back in for ten more minutes – but with the oven switched off as soon as you have put it back in.
  • Take the salmon out, cut into however many servings you need, place onto couscous that has been flavoured with whatever you wish (see Tricks’n’Tips as always) and you are there.

Alternatively, leave until cold, cut and serve with a salad.

Oh, by the way, if anyone wants the recipe, tell them to contribute to this site – the Hospice needs the cash!

Salmon in a pouch:

Salmon in a pouch:

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      30 mins.

Course:        Main

Serves:        2

Rating:         2:  Easy (except for pin-boning; desirable but not quite essential)

Find:

  • 2 fresh salmon steaks
  • Butter
  • Herbs (fresh dill would be great but……)
  • A lemon or a lime (or lemon/lime juice in a bottle)
  • Seasoning
  • Aluminium foil
  • Oven tray

Method:

  • Wash the salmon steaks and pat dry with kitchen roll.

Just feel with your fingertips along the flesh side of the salmon where the flakes join – can you detect any pin bone ends?  Some cuts of salmon (more towards the head than the tail) have little bones that can be felt with the fingertips.  If you do feel any there, a good sturdy pair of tweezers or similar (I use long nosed electronics pliers myself – they soon shift the stubborn little buggers…) will enable you to just oik them out very quickly and without a great deal of effort.  It just makes the salmon that bit nicer, knowing that there are none left.

  • Take a piece of foil about 30cms square, put it dull side uppermost and lightly butter the centre, where the piece of salmon will sit. Place a single salmon steak onto it, skin down.
  • Spread a little butter over the flesh side, cut the lemon and place two or three slices on top, then very lightly sprinkle with dried mixed herbs or dried dill (sometimes called dillweed), or, if you can get any, laying a couple of sprigs of fresh dill on each piece would be fantastic. Season with salt and ground black pepper.  If you only have the lemon juice and not the lemon, splash that on last – there should be moisture in the foil parcels before they are sealed.
  • Bring two opposite edges of the foil up to meet in the centre, folding the edges together to make a tube, and then fold a seal at each end as well. Each parcel should be as well sealed as you can possibly make it.
  • Place the parcels/pouches onto a metal oven baking tray and put into a pre-heated oven on around gas Mk 5 for 30 mins.
  • Serve with Colin’s wild/Camargue/basmati rice mixture under Rice Types, fresh sugar snap peas and, perhaps, tender asparagus spears. Cor, I can almost smell it – can I come round to yours and try it, please?

Whole Salmon Posh Buffet Centrepiece

Whole Salmon Posh Buffet Centrepiece

 (Dishwasher version):

Prep:           10 mins.

Cooking:      1 dishwasher cycle….

Course:        Buffet.  Posh one.

Serves:        8 – 12

Rating:         4:  Tricky, but worth a punt.

Cooking a whole salmon as a buffet centrepiece can be quite a problem as they are often too big (too long) for any container that you have in the kitchen.  You would normally have no hope without using a big fish kettle.   You would either have to cut the fish in half, chop off the head & tail or curl it round… none of which are ideal when you want to present the whole fish flat on a platter for a posh buffet.

Solution:  Use the dishwasher.

FIND:

  • Kitchen foil, double width. Either buy the double width turkey foil (expensive, even when it’s available around Christmas) or lay two or more pieces side-by-side, dull side uppermost, and make a triple-folded seam between them to produce a multi-width piece.  Amazing what technology can do these days, eh?
  • Fresh Dill is by far the best…. Go on, don’t be a cheapskate like me, be generous….
  • Parsley, preferably flat leaved – fresh – see Dill, above
  • Lemons – a couple will do
  • Olive – or half of one! A pimento stuffed one, halved, so that you can see the red in the middle of the green – it’s to replace the eye that you’ll scoop out with a teaspoon….. too much info?  Read on.
  • Salad leaves
  • Tomatoes, peppers, all sorts of other salady bits that you know all about and I’m too lazy to list
  • Butter, for inside of the parcel and to finish off the sauce
  • Platter on which it will be presented (needs to be long enough!)

Method:

  • Lay the whole gutted and cleaned fish, complete with all fins, head, tail, etc onto the foil that you have just made.
  • Lay lots of fresh dill and parsley together with a few teaspoons of water into the cavity of Sammy the salmon. Season it well and put a few blobs of butter into the cavity and also on the upper skin side of the fish. 
  • Cut slices from the lemon and lay that on top of the skin as well as inside the cavity.
  • Squeeze as much lemon juice (from the lemon you have left) into the cavity.
  • Seal up the foil really well, triple folding the seams ensuring that there are no leaks either into or out of the parcel (no, you can’t use tape).  Then wrap it up in another layer of foil to ensure that no seepage occurs at all, neither in nor out.
  • It HAS TO BE FULLY AND COMPLETELY SEALED.
  • Be careful not to pierce the foil as you lay it into the bottom tray of the dishwasher – fold the plate rack down first, if it can be done. 
  • Do not wash any dishes in the dishwasher this time – turn off/down the rinse-aid if you can (but you’ll need to remember to turn it back on again afterwards)….. and certainly don’t put in any detergent….
  • Set the dishwasher for the longest, hottest wash cycle (i.e. not a short one) and go have a cup of tea with a neighbour (or nip down the pub – probably preferable) whilst Delilah-the-delectable-dishwasher cooks Sammy-the-succulent-salmon to a turn for you.
  • When you stagger back from the pub, carefully take the package out of the dishwasher, being careful not to nick the foil on the prongs of the tray, as there will now be lots of hot fishy juice in the bottom of the foil parcel –a commodity that you are going to put to very good use later on.
  • Carefully and gently open up the parcel on a tray on a work surface (ensuring the juices don’t escape and run down your legs) and carefully lift out our lovely Sammy, probably on a long spatula or wooden spoon handle for support, ensuring that it stays in one piece. Don’t drop it.  DON’T DROP IT!
  • Tip it so that any juice runs into the foil or tray, then lay it gently onto the centre of the oval stainless steel or silver (bloody show-off!) platter, china plate or whatever you intend to present it upon.  Retain the juices in a bowl, cup or container for later.
  • So far, so good.
  • With a normal table knife, gently scrape away the skin all the way from the back of the gill opening to the root of the tail, exposing all of that one side, being careful not to damage the flesh. 
    • Give the skin to your dog or cat – they love being involved in this sort of recycling. They like to help.
  • If you are not squeamish (or even if you are), scoop the now opaque eye out of its socket with the handle of a teaspoon and replace it with the cut-off end of a pimento-stuffed olive.  If you are REALLY squeamish (coward), lay a sliver of pimento-stuffed olive on top of the eye – but it will not look so good. (Sammy should have gone to SpecSavers)
  • Lay lots of small assorted salad leaves all around the fish, together with peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, roasted pine-nuts, cashews and pecans (see ‘toasting your nuts’ in Tricks’n’Tips), tucking the leaves under a bit to make it look nice. (You don’t lay the fish onto the leaves initially because the skin still needs to be removed – and it might mess up the salad.)
  • Warm up the fishy juices (that are left in the foil and tray) in a saucepan with a little more butter and whisk as much as you possible can to add a little air, making it a little thicker, using a balloon whisk. Pour it over the exposed flesh of the fish just before being served and then sprinkle on the chopped fresh parsley.
  • Serve the salmon, still warm if possible, onto the plates of your guests in large chunks, removing the flesh from the bones by pulling the flesh down from the spine to the underside of the fish, with two forks, sliding it off the bones.     And dead impressive!
  • Don’t let ‘em in on the dishwasher secret till they’ve finished, and complemented you on y’cooking…..