I was very pleased when the Daring Cooks’ challenge of this month was revealed, because I love salmon. Therefore I had to love a salmon fillet wrapped in short crust, a.k.a., salmon en croûte. En croûte dishes are typical in French cuisine, the croûte being the dough in which they are wrapped. If there’s any French in the room, please correct me if I’m wrong. So here’s my take on this scrumptious dish.
Salmon en croûte
- 150 g mascarpone or any cream cheese
- 120 g watercress, rocket and spinach
- 1/2 kg shortcrust pastry (you can use store-bought pastry, but I always make my own, recipe follows)
- 500 g salmon fillet
- 1 medium egg
For the shortcrust pastry:
- 280 g all-purpose flour
- 125 g cold butter
- 1 pinch salt
- 100 g cold water
To prepare the crust, first weigh the flour and butter. Dice the butter and toss it in the flour. Mix it in a food processor until you obtain a crumbly mixture. Add the salt, mix and pour the cold water. I always use the water at fridge temperature. Then mix on high speed until the dough coheres and you get a nice ball. Don’t overmix it. Then roll it to at least 1 cm thickness, lay on plastic film and then on a large tray that can fit into the fridge. Cover with another sheet of plastic and put in the fridge to cool.
While the dough is resting prepare the filling. Wash the vegetables, pat them dry and mix with the cheese in a food processor, until you get a smooth green cream. I only used spinach and the result was very mild, but I prefer it that way. I’m sure the flavor will be sharper if you add the rocket and watercress too.
The recipe called for making a large package with the whole salmon fillet, so that it could be served in large slices. I preferred to try and make individual little packages, although my size estimation wasn’t very… ahem, accurate. In the end each «little» package sufficed for 2 people, because the assembly is quite… nourishing. But anyway I’m sure this would also be a great combination in empanadas size.
Heat the oven to 200 ºC. In the meantime, take the dough out of the fridge and roll it thin. Lay the salmon fillet or pieces of fillet on the dough. Sprinkle the salmon with the salt and spread the vegetables-cheese cream on it. Then close the package by brushing the edge with a little water and pressing with the tines of a fork. Transfer the packages to a baking dish. My intention was to make a fish-looking croûte… but I didn’t quite succeed. Judge for yourselves. I need some more practice… I’m willing to learn by making this dish some other time… I will make this sacrifice. Back to the point, slash the dough surface in a couple of places so that the steam can come out (I forgot it!). Then beat an egg and use it to brush all the croûte. When the oven is hot enough, put the dish into it and bake for half an hour.
I really liked this dish, we had a family meal and everybody loved it. The flavors meld wonderfully. You can’t clearly make out the flavors of the vegetables and cheese and at the same time the salmon flavor is tempered… very tasty result. Wonderful with a good white wine, for an elegant main course on New Year’s Eve… remember we have dinner at 10 in Spain… we’re crazy.