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Daring Cooks: Salmon en Croute

December 15, 2009

The December 2009 Daring Cooks challenge was hosted by Simone of Junglefrog Cooking. Simone chose Salmon en Croute (or alternative recipes for Beef Wellington or Vegetable en Croute) from Good Food Online.

Salmon en Croute is salmon baked in a pastry pocket of goodness, with a little sauce of your liking to liven it up.

The last time someone offered Beef Wellington to me, I ate the pastry while pushing the beef around on the plate until the cook said, “You don’t eat beef, do you?” Well, no I don’t. Most of the time. The truth is, I have to be in the right kind of mood to eat beef, because at this point it’s sheer stubbornness that’s keeping me from eating it. With this in mind, I chose the Salmon en Croute instead of the Beef Wellington version.

In addition to the beef-aversion, I haven’t made fish before, and wanted to try it out. This looked like a relatively easy first try, because you bake the fish in a pastry pocket and let it do it’s own thing.

One of the main parts of the recipe is the shortcrust pastry, which I decided to go ahead and make myself, because I should not even bother to look for it up here. They lack a lot of choice, or you have to go crawling through a store larger than Wal-Mart and with more people.  The bad news is that I am trying to adjust to the dry climate up here and had to add way more water than the recipe called for, which was kind of scary. We’re buying a humidifier soon, don’t worry.

Otherwise, I continued my bad habit of rolling out dough too thick.  No surprise, the dough didn’t quite get cooked through here, but it wasn’t bad.  A bit spotty, which is why it was good that I was the only one eating it. It’s a good dish though, give it a try!

Salmon en Croute

Mascarpone or creamcheese 5.2 ounces/150 gr
Watercress, rocket (arugula) and spinach – 0.6 cup/4.2 ounces/120 gr
Shortcrust pastry – 17.6 ounces, 500 gr. Use a butterversion such as Jus-rol which is frozen or dorset pastry. or… make your own!
Salmon fillet (skinless)- 17.6 ounce/500 gr
egg – 1 medium sized

1.Heat the oven to 200°C/390 F. Put the mascarpone or cream cheese in a food processor with the watercress, spinach and rocket and whizz the lot until you have a creamy green puree. Season well.
2. Roll the pastry out so you can wrap the salmon in it completely (approx. 2-3 mm thick) and lay it on a buttered or oiled baking sheet (it will hang over the edges). Put the salmon in the middle. If it has a thinner tail end, tuck it under. Spoon half of the watercress mixture onto the salmon. Now fold the pastry over into a neat parcel (the join will be at the top, so trim the edge neatly), making sure you don’t have any thick lumps of pastry as these won’t cook through properly. Trim off any excess as you need to. Make 3 neat cuts in the pastry to allow steam to escape and make some decorations with the off-cuts to disguise the join if you like. Brush with the egg glaze.
3. Bake for 30 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and browned. To test wether the salmon is cooked, push a sharp knife through one of the cuts into the flesh, wait for 3 seconds then test it against the inside of your wrist; if it is hot, the salmon is cooked. Serve with the rest of the watercress puree as a sauce.

Shortcrust Pastry

450 gr (15.8 ounces or 3.2 cups ) of plain all purpose flour
200 gr ( 7 ounce) cold butter
pinch of salt

Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the butter and rub in with your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. If you have a food processor you can use that as shown in the above video.
Stir in the salt, then add 2-3 tbsp of water and mix to a firm dough. Knead the dough briefly and gently on a floured surface. Wrap in cling film and chill while preparing the filling.

For best results make sure the butter is very cold.

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