Ask people what their showstopper main course is, and I bet that a hefty portion will say Beef Wellingon. I think of Salmon en Croûte as its somewhat overlooked fishy relation though, so am going to take a minute to big it up.
There are lots of great things about making Salmon en Croûte. Firstly, salmon is often on offer in supermarkets (beef fillet never is!). Secondly, salmon makes for quite a light and summery meal. Third, and finally, Salmon en Croûte is delicious cold too – particularly with a big dollop of mayonnaise or potato salad, and some greens.
Of course, a enormous Salmon en Croûte is the classic showstopper, but individual Salmon en Croûte have their own advantages, mainly in that they’re self-contained, and easy to serve. This recipe can be made in advance, and is easy to scale up – just do a couple for a cosy night in, or set up a little production line, and do a batch of twelve for a dinner party. You’ll surprise yourself how simple they are.
Spinach and Nutmeg Stuffed Salmon en Croûte
100-125g frozen spinach (2-4 pucks, they wildly vary in size)
1/4 lemon, zested (optional)
1/4 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated (optional)
70g soft cream cheese
175g puff pastry
2 boneless salmon fillets, skinned
1 egg yolk (for a glaze)
1. Defrost the frozen spinach – either by leaving it at room temperature, or popping it in the microwave. Squeeze out all the water. Frozen spinach contains so much water, the new weight should be about half what you started with, round 50-70g.
If you’ve used frozen whole-leaf spinach (rather than chopped spinach), then use kitchen scissors to roughly chop.
You can, of course, use fresh spinach too. Cut, briefly steam and drain.
2. Mix the spinach with the cream cheese, and any other flavourings you choose to use. I often add a little lemon zest and lots of grated nutmeg.
3. Lightly dust a non-stick surface with plain flour. Roll out the puff pastry into two rectangles. Place the fish one end, then divide the spinach mixture – putting a rough dollop on top of the fish.
4. Now fold the puff pastry over the salmon. Dip your finger into a cup of water, and lightly-dampen the edges of the puff pastry, and then squeeze together. Use a fork to crimp the edges. Cut away any pastry excess.
The only danger of making individual Salmon en Croûtes is that there is a higher ratio of pastry to filling than usual, so do take care to trim away any excess round the edge of the parcels.
[5. Use any leftover pastry to decorate, by pressing pastry-shapes onto the parcels!]
6. If you are making these in advance, refrigerate at this point.
7. Heat the oven to 200°C. Use a pastry brush to paint an egg yolk glaze on the salmon parcels. This will help give the pastry a lovely, golden exterior.
8. Put the individual Salmon en Croûte on a non-stick tray, and put in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. The cooking times are generally quite slick, and when the pastry looks done, then the salmon will be cooked. Serve and enjoy!
- If your salmon fillets are from the belly/tail/second cut, then one side may be a lot thicker than the other. Double over the thin side, so that the fillet is the same thickness all the way through, so that the cooking is more consistent.
- Dependent on how creamy/tangy you like the filling, then experiment by mixing quark, sour cream, crème fraîche or even herb-flavoured Philadelphia in with the cream cheese.
- In the past, I have decorated the parcels as fish, by sticking on eyes, lips and fins and using the tip of a knife to draw on fins. Sadly, I never took a photograph, but feel free to nick the idea – particularly fun when cooking for kids!
- Some people prefer using milk as a glaze instead of egg yolk.
- When cooking puff pastry, the most important thing to remember is to make sure that the oven is HOT before you put it in, and try to resist the temptation of opening and shutting the door while cooking, as this will make the temperature drop.
- (Unless your guests are fussy) don’t worry if the middle of the salmon is a tiny bit pink – I think that salmon is nicest like that, rather than overcooked and dried-out.
- Lots of puff pastry recipes advise that you roll to a 1cm thickness, but I tend to roll a lot thinner for this recipe, because there’s already quite a high proportion of pastry to salmon in a recipe for individual salmon en croûte.