Mrs Portly's Pantry . . . a fishy business
PUBLISHED: 11:30 05 May 2015 | UPDATED: 11:30 05 May 2015
Salmon's tasty, versatile and good for you, but source it carefully, advises Linda Duffin
The only fish I’ve ever caught with any degree of success were mackerel – and that was on a boat equipped with sonar.
While I might fantasise about fly fishing for wild salmon, the truth is I’d be far more likely to get the hook caught in the bushes or in my own eyebrow. As I’m not a big fan of weird piercings I stick to buying my salmon from the shops.
That usually means farmed salmon, and with wild Atlantic salmon stocks on the Marine Conservation Society’s danger list, that is probably a good thing. But there is farmed salmon – and farmed salmon. At its worst it is fatty and flabby and we’ve probably all read those stories about overcrowded salmon farms where the fish are diseased and lice-infested. Ick.
But it is possible to buy good quality salmon from fish farms where the welfare standards are much higher.
Around 60% of Scotland’s salmon farms are members of the RSPCA’s Freedom Foods assurance scheme and it’s from one of those, Loch Duart, that Maximus Fishing source their salmon. If you haven’t come across Maximus before, check them out. They sell sustainably sourced fish at Catch and Crop in Saxmundham and at Friday Street farm shop, where they also have a smokehouse.
As a local company selling good quality, ethically sound fish, I think they deserve our support.
So I’ve used salmon fillets in this recipe, which is fresh and summery and – if I say so myself – absolutely delicious. The salmon is moist and tender, the sauce is a knock-out and the peas provide a sweet minty contrast. It tastes luxurious, but it’s quick to make. A perfect weekend supper.
Salmon with lemon and herb butter and crushed peas (serves 4-6)
2 salmon fillets
Salt and freshly ground pepper
For the sauce
55 ml white wine
100ml double cream
A good squeeze of lemon juice
1 tbsp chives, snipped small
1 tbsp chervil, dill or parsley, plus a few sprigs to garnish
For the peas
300g fresh or frozen peas, shelled weight (around 750g weighed in the pod)
40ml good quality olive oil
2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sugar
A squeeze of lemon juice (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
Take a large rectangle of kitchen foil and put the salmon fillets in the centre, folding and sealing the foil to make a loose parcel. Place in a roasting tin and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes.
To make the minted peas, defrost first if frozen, then crush them with a potato masher or in a food processor using the pulse button. They should be roughly chopped, not pureed.
Place in a saucepan with the olive oil, chopped mint, a good pinch of salt, freshly ground pepper and a pinch of sugar. Cover and cook on a medium heat for around four minutes, stirring once or twice to prevent sticking. Check the seasoning and add a squeeze of lemon juice if necessary. Keep warm while you make the sauce.
Put the white wine in a saucepan and simmer for 4-5 minutes over a medium heat until reduced.
Add the butter and double cream, whisk gently until amalgamated and reduce until thick. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice and the herbs. Season with salt to taste.
Take the salmon out of the oven, unwrap carefully (it can be a bit steamy in there) and remove to warmed plates.
Serve with the peas and perhaps a few new potatoes. Pour over the sauce and garnish with herbs.