This evening’s blog, despite having a rather impressive French name (Salmon en croûte literally meaning ‘crusted Salmon’) is actually very simple to prepare and cook. Quite frankly, anything wrapped in golden, cooked puff pastry looks great, so when you cook this for guests they never need know how easy it is to actually assemble. I use this word, as this recipe is more of an assembly job than actual cooking.
This recipe is for 2 (greedy) people, but if you want to make a bigger one, just double (or triple) up the ingredients. A large salmon en croûte makes for a great centrepiece when you’ve got a few guests round for a dinner party.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
- 2 (240g) fillets of salmon – skins cut off (ask your fishmonger to do this, else use a small knife and do it slowly and carefully yourself so as not to waste any of the flesh)
- 250g puff pastry (defrosted in the fridge from frozen is fine)
- 130g spinach (young leaves, freshly washed)
- 5 chestnut mushrooms (finely sliced, and then sliced again into very small cubes/morsels)
- 1/2 large onion – finely chopped
- 2 tbsp crème fraÎche
- 1 lemon
- Freshly ground pepper
- Oil (anything flavourless)
- Knob of butter
- 1 egg
- Pre-heat the oven to 200°C.
- Over a medium heat, melt the butter in a frying pan with the oil (this stops the butter burning), then add the onion and mushroom and leave to fry off for 5 minutes.
- Once everything has softened and the onion has become translucent, add the spinach and turn the heat down low. Leave to wilt – this will only take a moment or two if you carefully mix the spinach into the mushrooms and onions with a wooden spoon.
- Once wilted, add the juice of half the lemon, a pinch of salt, a couple of turns of pepper and crème fraÎche and mix together for a moment. Then take off the heat and put the mixture in a sieve over a small saucepan (no heat underneath is needed). Leave the liquid to drain off (but do not discard) and the spinach and mushroom mix to cool slightly. The reason this is cooled now is because if the mixture went onto the pastry hot, the butter in the pastry would melt and you could end up with a gooey mess.
- Whilst you’re waiting for this to cool, it’s time to prepare the pastry. On a floured surface, roll out the puff pastry to just under ½cm thick. The width should be big enough that it accommodates the salmon filets with a 2cm borden. The length should be enough, so that the pastry can be folded over and encase (or ‘crust’) the salmon. Transfer the pastry to a baking tray.
- Season the salmon with a sprinkle of salt and pepper on both sides. Then place the fillets on one half of the pastry. Take the spinach mix and carefully spoon this over the fillets, ensuring it ends up on the salmon rather than falling onto the pastry around it.
- Beat the egg in a small bowl. Using your finger, run some of the egg mix around the rim of the pastry – this will help the edges stick together when you fold it over.
- Fold over the empty half of the pastry carefully so the sides match up, then use a floured fork (the flour helps it to not stick to the pastry) to imprint the edges and seal your parcel.
- Gently score the pastry in diagonals and brush all over with egg white. Trim to neaten the edges and place in the middle of the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the ‘croute’ has puffed up and is golden brown.
- When the salmon is ready, remove from the oven and leave to cool for a moment before slicing and serving. In the meantime reheat the sauce that you reserved from spinach/mushrooms. Add another dollop of crème fraîche and mix together. Serve the salmon with the sauce and some steamed vegetables of your choice.