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Salt-baked salmon with watercress sauce


Serves: 4-6
timePrep time: 45 mins
timeTotal time:
Salt-baked salmon with watercress sauce
Recipe photograph by Tara Fisher

Salt-baked salmon with watercress sauce

Salt-baking produces perfectly flakey salmon, delicious alongside the creamy watercress sauce. Impress guests by cracking open the salt crust at the table

Serves: 4-6
timePrep time: 45 mins
timeTotal time:

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Nutritional information (per serving)
Calories
705Kcal
Fat
57gr
Saturates
22gr
Carbs
1.5gr
Sugars
1.5gr
Fibre
1gr
Protein
40gr
Salt
1gr

Anna Glover

Anna Glover

Anna is our former Creative Food Editor, and a cookery writer and food stylist. She loves a challenge and is known for whipping up interesting flavour combinations. She’s still in search of the best pizza in the world 
See more of Anna Glover’s recipes
Anna Glover

Anna Glover

Anna is our former Creative Food Editor, and a cookery writer and food stylist. She loves a challenge and is known for whipping up interesting flavour combinations. She’s still in search of the best pizza in the world 
See more of Anna Glover’s recipes

Ingredients

For the salt baking
  • 2 x 350g packs coarse sea salt
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 x 20g pack dill
  • 1x 750g salmon side
For the watercress sauce
  • 200ml double cream
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 large shallot (or 2 small ones), finely diced
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 150ml white wine
  • 1 x 80g pack watercress, large stalks discarded and roughly chopped

Step by step

  1. Heat the oven to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas 6. Put the sea salt, egg whites and 2 tablespoons water into a food processor. Using a fine grater, zest the lemon into the bowl of the processor, and add the peppercorns, coriander seeds and fennel seeds. Roughly chop most of the pack of dill and add. Whiz for a few seconds to make a wet, pale green, sandy paste.
  2. Pat the salmon fillet dry with kitchen paper, and cut in half to make 2 pieces that will sandwich together. Cut the zested lemon into thin slices. Add the remaining dill sprigs and lemon slices to the flesh of one fillet piece, then sandwich them together with the skin side outside. Tie together using kitchen string if one piece is wider and there’s a lot of exposed salmon flesh.
  3. Line a baking tray with foil, put ¼ of the salt mixture into the middle and pat it down flat so it’s a little bigger than the salmon parcel. Place the salmon on top, then press the remaining salt mixture all over and around the salmon to encase it with no gaps.
  4. Bake for 40-50 minutes in the middle of the oven – nearer to 40 minutes for a thinner, wider side of salmon, or 50 minutes for a chunkier fillet.
  5. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the double cream in a small pan on a very low heat for 15 minutes, whisking every minute or so until reduced by half. Make sure it doesn’t boil. Heat the oil in another small pan. Fry the shallots on low until translucent and tender – about 10 minutes. Add the vinegar and simmer until evaporated, then add the wine and simmer until reduced by half.
  6. When the salmon is out of the oven, rest for 10 minutes. A metal skewer inserted into the middle of the parcel should feel hot to the touch.
  7. While the salmon is resting, stir the reduced cream into the wine; the mixture will thicken instantly. Keep whisking until you get a smooth sauce. Season with pepper and a small amount of salt. Stir the watercress through the sauce until just wilted, then remove from the heat.
  8. Crack open the salt crust with a knife or spoon and discard. Carefully remove the skin and flake the salmon onto plates. Serve with buttered new potatoes and a jug of the creamy watercress sauce.
    Tip
    Salt baking
    A classic chef’s technique. You make an inedible ‘salt dough’ from coarse salt and egg white, and cover food such as meat or fish with it before baking. The method locks in flavour and stops steam escaping, giving a perfect, moist result. The water drawn out of the food helps turn the salt mixture into a hard crust that must be cracked open before serving, and doing this at the table looks really impressive! Salt baking also works well with whole root veg such as celeriac, beetroot and potatoes. Salt can be an irritant, so you might want to wear disposable gloves when applying the dough.

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