This recipe comes partly as a celebration of the return of the oven after our last one failed to muster any warmth, and partly as the result of a conversation about the ‘best way to cook salmon’. After eating a particularly unappetising microwaveable macaroni cheese a few days ago in lieu of using the oven, I decided the moment that the new one was installed I would use it wholly. Nothing shows how wonderful an oven is like pastry – golden, puffed up pastry with a delicious, bubbling filling waiting underneath. These salmon and leek parcels are just that, their buttery pastry keeping moist salmon entwined with soft leek ribbons under wraps. As a development of the traditional salmon baked in foil, these little parcels are just as simple to cook as their predecessor, but result in a more exciting variation on the humble original.
I decided to experiment, making two variations of the parcel, to ensure all avenues of development had been visited! The first parcel focussed on the taste of the fish – lightly seasoned, with some butter to act as a sauce and give moisture to the parcel. The second was without butter, sprinkled with flat-leaf parsley, a herb often used as a complement to fish. Both were cooked for 20 minutes in a hot oven, and then were tasted to decide which recipe was the best improvement on foil baking. The salmon of the second parcel was drier than the first – whilst puff-pastry has an already notable fat content, sometimes comprising ‘all-butter’, it was not sufficient to keep the salmon moist in the oven. Using a small knob of butter created the delicious liquid that accompanies fish when foil-baked, without causing the pastry to go soggy. Plus, the light seasoning of the first parcel meant that the flavour of the fish was not overpowered by other ingredients, as it arguably was in the second – the flat leaf parsley gave a richness that wasn’t necessary with the pastry, and didn’t pair well with the leeks. Salt and pepper brought out the natural flavours of both ingredients, rather than attempting to create another dimension of taste that wasn’t required! The recipe listed below is for the first parcel – the simplicity of the ingredients mean the flavour of the salmon is at the forefront, with a buttery sauce lending moistness to the fish and leeks. Served with some peas, or a light salad, the parcels are not more complex to produce than using foil, and show a new aspect of a much-loved dish!
- 1 salmon fillet, skinned and sliced into thin strips
- ½ large leek, sliced diagonally into 1cm thick chunks
- 1 sheet of ready-rolled puff pastry, sliced evenly into quarters
- A knob of butter
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil, to drizzle
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Boil the kettle, and use the boiling water to blanche the sliced leeks for 5 minutes, until slightly softened. Drain the leeks, and set aside for later.
- On a clean surface, lay out two of the squares of puff pastry. In a bowl, place the salmon strips, and add the leek. Stir gently to combine.
- Divide the leek and salmon mixture evenly between the two squares of puff pastry. Season, and top each with a generous knob of butter.
- Gather the corners of the pastry square, and pull towards the middle until a ‘bun’ shape is created. Scrunch up and down the joins to prevent it falling apart in the oven!
- Place onto a non-stick baking sheet, and drizzle lightly with olive oil. Bake for 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden. Remove, and serve immediately to prevent them going soggy!