Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Two Dishes Are Better Than One

Making our weekly menu is one of my favourite and one of the most frustrating times of my week. I get to let my imagination run (a little) wild and use some of the ideas I've picked up from my favourite foodie blogs and magazines, while trying to incorporate seasonal delights and some family favourites.
As I've said (or ranted) before, the list of foods that my husband doesn't like is a long one, and I tend to try not to incorporate too much of that list into one week, but sometimes I just can't take it anymore and simply must have a curry, tagine or, in this case, a lovely piece of salmon.
We don't eat much fish really, which is such a shame because two of the three of us love it. When I do make a food that Drew doesn't like, I try to soften the blow a little by combining it with flavours and techniques that he does enjoy.

I had bought a lovely piece of Scottish salmon for supper, which I wanted to cook simply with just some salt and pepper and some local asparagus. Because Drew loves Thai flavours, I thought that a beurre blanc perfumed with lemongrass would be a nice twist. Some lovely organic Devon cider made a nice change from using white wine as a base for the sauce and was a particularly nice compliment to the asparagus.

This was a really tasty meal in its own right, but what I have been the most excited about is what I did with the left over salmon the next morning.

Christian was having a sleep over at his BFF's house, so I had more salmon than I really needed. I decided to cook it anyway and figured that I'd just use it in a salad for lunch the next day.
The beurre blanc was so good that I packaged the left overs with the piece of cooked salmon even though I knew it would split in the fridge (which it did).

Crispy Salmon With Lemongrass and Cider Beurre Blanc
serves 2, takes 30 minutes (ish)

2 170g (6oz) salmon fillet (look for sustainably sourced)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil

1 shallot, medium dice
1 lemongrass stalk, bashed to bits with a mallet, then chopped into roughly 1" pieces
200ml ((6.75 oz) dry organic cider
75g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
pinch salt
juice of 1/2 a lemon (fresh, not bottled)

Heat a small saucepan over a moderate heat and drop in the shallot and lemongrass. Dry fry these for a minute or so and pour over the cider.
Simmer the cider mixture over a low heat for several minutes, until the liquid has reduced by about half.
While the cider is reducing, sprinkle the salmon on both the skin and the flesh sides with a little salt and pepper, then, over a moderate heat, heat the olive oil until shimmery.
Place the salmon skin-side down, and lower the temperature a little, leaving the fish to cook for 3-5 minutes, depending on their thickness.
When the salmon looks to be about halfway cooked, carefully flip over to finish cooking on the flesh side. The fish will continue cooking for over a minute after you remove it from the heat, so err on the side of under-cooking and remove the salmon when it's almost, but not quite done.

While your salmon is cooking and your cider has reduced, drop the temperature to almost a simmer and put a couple of pieces of butter into the pan, stirring or whisking well to incorporate. When the butter has melted into the mixture, add a few more pieces of butter, continually stirring until combined and continue in this fashion until all of the butter has been incorporated and the mixture is creamy coloured and smooth.
Strain this mixture into a small bowl which is sitting in a larger bowl filled with warm (ever so slightly warmer than body temp) water. Season with a little sea salt and stir in the lemon juice. While sitting in the warm bowl, the sauce should be fine for fifteen minutes at least, so you could make it before you start cooking the salmon if you like.

I served the salmon skin-side-up with peeled, steamed asparagus and some new potatoes tossed in butter, sea salt and fresh mint. I drizzled the sauce over the asparagus and around the salmon, so that it didn't make the crispy skin go soft.

So yesterday morning, when I was surveying the fridge and trying to figure out what I wanted for breakfast, there was last night's salmon, winking seductively from the shelf. I grabbed a handful of spinach, a pot of cream, some tomato and basil and went to work.
Ten minutes later, I had what was seriously the best breakfast I have ever had. Of course the soft egg yolk with the salmon and spinach were lovely, but what made the dish so special for me, was the subtly lemongrassy sauce mingling with all of the other flavours, bringing a slight tang, which was accentuated by the soft tomatoes. If you ask me, it would be worth making the salmon and sauce specifically for this dish if you're having a brunch party or want to treat your special someone with breakfast in bed.

Left Over Salmon and Egg Special Brunch
serves 2, takes ten minutes

1 piece of salmon fillet, cooked as described above
2 tbsp left-over lemongrass beurre blanc, doesn't matter if it's split
2 fresh, free range eggs
1 large, ripe tomatoes sliced about 1/4" thick
1 very large handful, washed spinach
1 sprig, fresh basil, leaves picked and cut into a rough chiffonade
2-3 tbsp double cream (optional)
rye crisp bread to serve
freshly ground black pepper, sea salt

Heat a heavy, oven-proof skillet over a medium heat, then tip in the butter sauce, stirring for a few seconds until melted, then flake in the salmon.
Add the spinach to the pan and fold in, without breaking the salmon up too much and cook for a few seconds until the spinach has started to wilt.
Crack the eggs over the top and tilt the pan to encourage the whites to flood over the spinach, drizzle over the cream, then lay over the tomato slices and scatter with the basil.
Sprinkle with a little sea salt and plenty of black pepper before putting under a hot grill for approximately 3-4 minutes. Check regularly until the whites are just firm but the yolks are still runny.

Serve immediately and groan lavishly as all the amazing flavours do a waltz on your tongue.
Seriously, this dish made my week.

Beurre Blanc on FoodistaBeurre Blanc


  1. That cider beurre blanc needs to be bottled, corked and placed in a velvet bag. It sounds absolutely divine.

  2. what a perfectly incredible dinner....the use of the cider and the lemongrass was genius!!

    Your brunch entre was a perfect use of the leftover salmon