Seem to have leapt (no pun intended as that salmon fillet wasn’t for escaping) into summer already, without being aware of it. That aside, the idea for this Salmon en Papillote lunch happened Friday week ago, when it was so cold as I cut across the beach to go food shopping I started craving comfort food. Cumberland sausages, slow cooked, with sautéed potatoes and baked beans almost did the trick that evening. What was missing was a good ‘ol oven baked gratin, one of my favourites. Then I started wondering if a gratin would taste okay at room temperature for summer lunches. Yes they do. Or at least the one I made last Tuesday did.
Today I decided on using a slightly differing technique for the potatoes, but it didn’t hold its shape quite so well (as I didn’t have time to let it cool completely) which is why it’s not to be seen in the photos, regardless of how tasty it was. So, where does the salmon come in? The gratin has a layer of roasted or baked potatoes in stock and cream with another thinner layer of eggs on top, baked for the last 15 minutes. That gratin goes so well with salmon. Okay, the gratin needs a layer of onions and a scattering of pan-fried pancetta as well. That’ll hopefully happen during the week. Even though it was wonderful to be in my tiny kitchen today with the oven on and all windows wide open it’s still decidedly chilly at night. Enter the perfect comfort food served hot for sups, with enough leftovers that I don’t have to reheat the following day – excepting the salmon en papillote made fresh.
Salmon en Papillote, with dill, lemon and almonds
For the salmon en papillote:
- 2 x parchment paper 30 x 30 cm (12 x 12 in)
- 2 x wild pacific pink salmon frozen fillets around 100g (3.52 oz) each, defrosted
- 2 x small stems fresh dill
- 1 x small lemon, freshly juiced
- 1 x garlic clove, crushed and split between both fillets
- small handful x flaked almonds, for both fillets
- season, both freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
For the almond sauce:
- 200ml (0.42 US pt lqd) x prepared stock (see below)
- 1 x heaped tablespoon oil
- 1 x heaped tablespoon plain flour
- 2 x tablespoons sour cream, more to personal taste
- seasoning, both sea salt and black pepper, to personal taste
- 2 x carrots, peeled, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 1 x onion, halved, peeled, trimmed and cut into quarters
- 2 x celery stalks/ribs, washed, trimmed and roughly chopped
- 2 x garlic cloves, root end cut off and discarded, peeled and kept whole
- 2 x fresh sprigs thyme, rinsed
- 1 x fresh parsley stalk/stem
- 2 x dried bay leaves, split
- 5 x whole black peppercorns
- pinch x cayenne pepper
- 400ml (0.84 US pt lqd) x cold water
- 1 x organic vegetable stock cube
For the salad (without instructions below):
- 1 x Little Gem lettuce, washed and shredded
- 2 x handfuls lamb lettuce, washed
- 1 x small green pepper/capsicum, washed, split in half, membranes cut out and discarded along with the seeds, pepper chopped into small dice
- 1/3 or more x cucumber, washed and sliced
- 1 x lemon
- 1 x ripe Hass avocado, peeled, stone removed and discarded, flesh roughly chopped or sliced and drizzled in lemon juice
- 2 x dried figs, lay each fig on its side, using a sharp paring knife with it facing away from you make an incision along the edge of the fig, stand upright and slice through it, grill and allow them to cool before chopping into small dice
- 2 x handfuls flaked almonds, toasted
- organic pumpkin seeds
- flat leaf parsley, rinsed and finely chopped or snipped, to personal taste
- vinaigrette, 3:1 of extra virgin olive oil to white wine vinegar
- seasoning, both freshly ground sea salt and black pepper
Measurements within brackets above are approximate only.
For the stock:
- Add all ingredients into a large heavy-based saucepan with lid and put on electric heat No 4 (out of 6). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to No 2 and simmer for at least 30 minutes. If possible prepare the stock the night before, turn off heat after 30 and allow to cool before storing. The following day put back on heat just to heat through, strain through a metal colander into a suitable bowl, remove the bay leaves and garlic and set both aside. Using the back of a large metal serving spoon mash the remaining veg in the colander to extract as much juice as possible, adding this to the stock. Strain stock again through a fine wire metal sieve and set aside.
For the salmon en papillote:
- Preheat oven to 220°C or 428°F
- After cutting out the parchment paper squares place each fillet in the centre. Squeeze fresh lemon juice, through a sieve if necessary, over both, add the dill, garlic and flaked almonds, season each fillet lightly with sea salt and black pepper.
- Fold over the parchment paper and start to fold the paper as close as possible to the salmon, at diagonals around the fish and creating a half circle, creasing the paper as you go. At the other side simply fold the paper underneath and place each en papillote into a suitable roaster.
- Bake on the second shelf down for 10 – 15 minutes, depending on how thick the fillets are.
For the almond sauce:
- Put a small saucepan on heat No 1 with the oil and flour, stirring through occasionally. The flour needs to be cooked out for several minutes. If any bubbling occurs take off heat and allow to cool before putting back on heat again. Do not let the roux turn brown.
- Measure out 200ml (0.42 US pt lqd) of the prepared stock and add to the roux. Up the heat to No 3 and stir continuously until thickened. Sprinkle over the ground almonds (which can be toasted in a dry pan before hand), add as much or as little sour cream to gain the right consistency. Keep on low heat, stirring through before serving.
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