Friday, August 08, 2008

Fishy behaviour: salmon with tarragon butter and samphire

Yes. I am aware that this is not a picture of a salmon.
It occurred to me the other day that I've featured only nine fish recipes since I started blogging over a year ago. I have to hold my hand up and say that I am not a bit eater or cooker of fish.

But I do love a fresh bit of fish and think that it is time to start redressing the balance. It is true that I don't cook fish all that often and don't even order it all that often when eating out. I'm a bit of a carnivore, I suppose. My greedy eyes skimming over the fish dishes on a menu and finding their way to the meaty dishes. I'm not sure why this is. I mean, I grew up by the sea. You'd think I'd be an enthusiast of all things scaly and slippery.

I think that part of the problem is that I no longer have a really good fishmonger nearby. I'm
surrounded by superb butchers but have not yet discovered a reliable source of fresh-as-a-daisy delicious fish. I'm therefore rather reliant on the local supermarket. The choice there is uninspiring and one wonders how fresh it really is.

I also panic slightly when it comes to cooking fish. I come over all nervous when face-to-face with whole fishes. I can see them looking at me, challenging me. Laughing at my incompetence even. So, I tend to stick to 'bits' of fish instead. I eat a lot of salmon. Some trout. Fillets of smoked haddock, cod, pollock, coley - that sort of thing. I also tend to be quite conservative about what I do with those bits of fish. I have a few trusted recipes that I stick to and tend not to experiment as much as I do with every other avenue of food.

Last weekend, I spent two heavenly hours in
Whole Foods on Kensington High Street. This flagship store really is heaven for food enthusiasts. If you haven't yet been, then do. It is spread over three floors and is bursting with every foodstuff imaginable. When I first heard the store was coming to London, I couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. I've been into a few Whole Food Markets in the States and whilst they are clearly a notch above the average supermarket, I didn't notice anything particularly out of the ordinary. This enormous version in Kensington? Definitely out of the ordinary.

Anyway, I picked up lots of interesting ingredients and produce and headed bravely to the fish counter chanting silently to myself 'I WILL cook a whole fish tonight. I WILL cook a whole fish tonight. I WILL cook a whole fish tonight'. When I got there are gazed into all those beady eyes though, I came unstuck. They didn't have the fish I'd decided upon and I couldn't decide what else to choose. I bottled out and found myself blushing while I asked for a 'nice BIT of salmon'. Pathetic.

I returned home with my tail between my legs.

The upshot of this sad, sad story is that I did actually cook a very nice salmon dish. It rather took me by surprise as I don't really like tarragon. I'm not quite sure why I even bought the tarragon. Perhaps I bought it to punish myself for the pathetic performance at the fish counter. In any case, it was good despite the tarragon! I also tried my hand at cooking
samphire for the first time. I love this salty, vibrantly green stuff. It can be hard to find but fishmongers often sell in in July and August, when it is at its best. It doesn't keep too well, so cook it as soon as you can. I steamed mine and slathered it with butter. It is very salty, so I didn't add any and went easy on seasoning the accompanying salmon too.

Here is the simple salmon recipe. Next time I promise to do better and brave it with a more adventurous fish!

Salmon with tarragon butter and samphire
Serves 1


Salmon fillet
Generous knob of butter
Tablespoon of chopped fresh tarragon
White wine

1. Preheat oven to 180C. Lay two sheets of foil or baking parchment out on the counter and place the salmon fillet in the centre.

2. Make the butter. Chop up a the tarragon and mix into the butter. I softened mine in the microwave for ease. Place butter on top of the salmon fillet.

3. Pull the sides of the foil/parchment up around the salmon to make a loose parcel. Before sealing at the top (by folding the foil over), pour in a little white wine. Place the parcel on a baking sheet in the oven and cook for around 20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the samphire. Wash and then steam for about three to four minutes. The samphire should still have a nice crunchy bite to it. To serve, add a little butter to it. Samphire likes butter. So do I.

5. Remove the salmon parcel from the oven and serve immediately.


Grace said...

i've never met a piece of seafood that i liked, but i'm loving this recipe for my brother's sake. he just went fishing in alaska and came home with oodles of salmon, and he asked me for help in finding different ways for him to eat it. we thank you. :)

Sandie said...

I love salmon, although I have to admit I've never tried samphire. I am more tempted to give it a whirl though after reading this post. Perhaps it's time to expand my horizons a bit...

Anonymous said...

I seem to have really gone off fish lately and I'm not sure why - the fact that I've just embarked on a new healthy eating regime is sure to change that though.

We do tend to buy our fish from the fishmonger but I'd also trust Waitrose (I think you have one near you) as well.

Rosie said...

This is one very elegant fish dish Antonia!

I have my fish delivered from Grimsby every three months. It was difficult before this to source fresh fish due to local fishmongers being a dying breed. Such a pity!

Rosie x

kabonfootprint said...

The only thing I know about cooking fish is either, fried or grilled...

I am trying my best to learn cooking (decent meals :-)), thanks for sharing your ideas... Busby SEO challenge


SushiLvr said...

Was working on my internet connection, and had to randomly type something into Google, and I just happened to type "food, glorious food" and happened upon your blog. I luv it! I am a abitofafoodie, too! LOL Your site is awesome, great job!

Pam ( :-)

SushiLvr said...

I was working on my internet connection and had to randomly type something into Google, which I happened to type "food, glorious food" and I came upon your blog. I luv it! I am abitofafoodie, too! Great site ~ I'm going to bookmark it so I can go back & look at some of your recipes when I have some more time. My true calling was culinary school. I hate the fact that I work so much & have so little time for good food and entertaining.

Pam :-) (