beached salmon (or, heston’s fish pie simplified)
I love reading In Search of Heston’s recipes. United by our passion for all things Blumenthal-flavoured, he goes the whole hog in attempting to recreate Heston’s entire recipe index. And he really pushes the boat out to make them as accurately to the original text as possible.
One of his recent posts was Heston’s fish pie. I’ve kind-of blogged about this before. Phil went all the way and made every element, taking him over two days and eventually eating the finished dish at 3.38am one bank holiday Monday morning. It sounded quite the ordeal. He also related how fellow Blumenthaler Kita had a similarly delayed dinner, with many steps resulting in an excellent meal for a lot of effort.
I wanted to pay tribute to that effort, and capture the spirit of the fish pie but have a version that could be made for a weekday dinner. So here’s my beached salmon: the major components of Heston’s fish pie reduced (dare I say deconstructed?) to a portion of salmon with pommes purees, sauce and crunch topping (the “sand”).
The potatoes take about 45 minutes, but the vast majority of it is unattended. Whilst it may sound long-winded with the two-stage temperatures, it’s the only way to achieve the silky-smoothness this recipe deserves. The salmon is simple, enhanced only by miso in lieu of a full cure. The sauce is the main binding ingredient and that’s where the power is. With a sauce rich in vermouth (Cinzano is one of the few spirits we always have in the cupboard) and cream it gives a luxurious finish. You can add improvements yourself with the quality of the stock you use, using fish offcuts if available.
It may not be 3 days worth of toil and can’t hope to compare to the original, but hopefully there’s enough flavours in to call back to the Heston recipe.
- 2 salmon steaks
- 1 tablespoon white miso paste
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 1 star anise
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 20ml vermouth
- 20ml white wine
- 100ml fish stock
- 50ml double cream
- 200g Charlotte potatoes, peeled and sliced into 5mm slices
- 50g unsalted butter
- 30ml whole milk
- 1 egg yolk
- 10g Comte cheese, grated
- 1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 10g panko breadcrumbs
- 1 nori leaf
- Pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon chopped parsley
- Marinate the salmon first: spread the miso paste evenly over the fish and put to one side until needed.
- For the potatoes, rinse the slices well under cold water to remove the excess starch. Fill a pan with water and heat to 80C. Add the potatoes and maintain at 70C for 30 minutes.
- In a small pan, add a little oil and fry the panko until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and crush in a pestle and mortar with the nori and salt. Set aside until needed.
- While the potatoes cook, get on with your sauce. Gently fry the onions in a little butter with the star anise until softened, and then add the garlic. Crank up the heat and add the vermouth and wine. Bubble away, deglazing the pan and reduce by half. Add the stock and cream, remove the star anise and once it hits the boil reducing to a gentle simmer.
- When the potatoes are ready, drain and rinse then return them to the pan. Add more water, add salt and bring to the boil, simmering for 15 minutes. Put the butter, milk, cheese, mustard and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl and set a sieve over it. When the 15 minutes are up, drain the potatoes well and push through the sieve into the waiting seasonings. Beat well with a spatula to combine and taste for seasoning. If it's ready before everything else, return to the saucepan to keep warm
- Get a frying pan on medium-hot for your salmon. Fry on the skin side for 4 minutes and flip over until done to your liking.
- To assemble the dish, add a scoop of potatoes. Add your fish. Check the sauce for seasoning and pour over. Add a sprinkle of parsley and plenty of 'sand'. Serve with mangetout or asparagus.