17 November 2009

Salmon En Croute

Some days, everything comes together. I made puff pastry last night in anticipation of some fresh spinach in today's vegetable box, and suddenly found myself with spare time to visit the fish monger this morning. Thus we had salmon en croute for supper tonight. The children adore fish, and served this way, even spinach was a big hit. One note on the pastry, if you buy it, search for all butter puff pastry, or make your own - it's very simple.

Salmon En Croute

300 g puff pastry (see recipe below)
500 g salmon filet, boned and skinned
500 g fresh spinach
1 garlic clove
2 tbs creme fraiche
1 egg, beaten
salt, pepper

Firstly, prepare the spinach: wash thoroughly, throw into a large pot and heat up quickly. When beginning to wilt, strain it, and press the remaining water out of it with a spoon. Chop up roughly, add creme fraiche, garlic, salt and pepper to taste.
Roll out your pastry long enough to cover the piece of salmon. If your slamon is very uneven in thickness (mine invariably is), cut off the thinnest part and place it on top to achieve relatively even thickness throughout. Season on both sides with salt and pepper. Arrange fish and spinach on the pastry - you may want just a spinach topping or a wrap-around bed of spinach spread over the pastry. Brush the pastry edges with beaten egg, then fold over into a parcel. Pinch the sides closed, make a few angular cuts in the top to let steam escape. Brush with beaten egg.

Place in hot oven (200 C) until done. I cannot tell you how long that will take, only that the pastry tends to take longer than the fish; I had to give mine 30 minutes for a golden brown pastry; the fish was a little overdone but still succulent. Mind you, rolling out the pastry as thin as you can is certainly a good idea, as the fish might be happy with as little as 8-10 minutes!

Puff Pastry

This quantity makes 400 g (you might as well). I have a little left over for a desert in the coming days. It really is ridiculously easy to make, and you can extend the resting times to fit your schedule. In terms of active attention, all puff pastry demands are a few minutes here and there. The key to success is keeping it cool, if at any time the dough gets sticky or buttery, put it in the fridge until sufficiently cold to continue.

Rub 25 g butter into 180 g flour and make into a plain dough with ca. 150 ml cold water and a pinch of salt. Cool in the fridge for 30 minutes. Take a piece of butter weighing 155 g, and flatten to an oblong of ca. 3 cm height (I cover it loosely with cling film and batter it with my baking pin).

Roll out your dough to an oblong roughly three times the length of your butter and a few centimetres more in width, and place the butter in the middle. ** Fold over both ends, then turn the parcel 90 degrees and roll out to its original length. Repeat the folding, roll out once more and fold again. Cool for another 30 minutes.

Repeat from ** twice more, with resting time as prescribed. The dough is then ready to use; or keep in the fridge. Now, was that so difficult? Just wait until you taste the difference, and you'll understand why it is worth making puff pastry yourself.

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