How to make the perfect salmon en croute

A salmon en croûte is a real centrepiece, but is deceptively easy to make. Why not have a go?

Some of my favourite dishes are the ones that require little effort to cook, but create a big impact. This is one of them. A salmon en croûte is a real centrepiece, but is deceptively easy to make. For me, it has as much pomp and grandeur as a beef Wellington, and is a beautiful dish to serve hot or cold at a spring or summer lunch.

As for getting the perfect pastry, it’s tempting to keep peeking in the oven to try to catch it at that beautifully puffed, golden point. But the key with puff is to show your mettle: each time the oven door opens, the temperature will drop, which isn’t good news. So make sure the oven is well up to temperature before the pastry goes in—and as difficult as it might seem, ensure the door stays shut during cooking.

 

Ingredients

Serves 4

  • 125g frozen spinach
  • 125g cream cheese
  • ½tsp nutmeg
  • ½tsp orange zest
  • 320g puff-pastry sheet
  • 500g half salmon side, skinned
  • 1 egg yolk

To serve: buttery new potatoes and dressed salad leaves

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Defrost the frozen spinach—either by leaving it at room temperature or popping it in the microwave. Squeeze out all the water by pressing the spinach against the side of a sieve.
  3. Transfer the spinach to a mixing bowl and use a fork to whisk it with the cream cheese, orange zest and grated nutmeg.
  4. Now prepare the salmon. Make sure the skin has been removed and there are no pin bones left. Cut it in half, lengthways.
  5. Lightly dust a non-stick surface with plain flour and roll out the puff-pastry sheet.
  6. Place one of the salmon fillets towards an edge of the puff-pastry rectangle and then spread the spinach mixture over it. Place the other salmon half on top, like a sandwich.
  7. Fold the pastry over the salmon to make a parcel. Use your fingers to crimp together the edge of the pastry and then cut away any excess. Leftover pastry can be rolled into shapes to decorate the outside—an eye and a dorsal fin always look impressive.
  8. Brush the parcel with an egg yolk to glaze. Move it onto a non-stick tray and transfer to the preheated oven to cook for 20–25 minutes, until the pastry is puffed up and golden.
  9. While the salmon is cooking, boil some new potatoes and toss in butter, and prepare a green-leaf salad to serve with it.

 

Try this...

Experiment with the flavours. For example, some people might prefer lemon zest over orange zest. Also, try substituting the cream cheese for quark, sour cream or even herb-flavoured Philadelphia.