11 January 2014

Pan-fried Salmon with Chanterelles and Cauliflower Purée

This year's first cooking challenge was suggested by Lundulph over Christmas - clear out the freezer. And he's right, for most of December I've been putting more things in, than taking out and felt like it's a magic box which seems full to the brim, but yet can accommodate yet another bag of left-over food or such. But I'm well aware that there are things in there, which have been there for a bit longer than they should. I've also not been too good at marking things up, so there will be an extra dimension to my chanllenge - work out what's in some of the bags/boxes.

Over Christmas, I also got a number of new recipes, which my Mum had carefully collected from her weekly magazines and there are quite a few good recipes in there, so to kick off the challenge, I decided to try one out.


Serves 4

600 - 700 g fresh salmon in one piece, without skin
1 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tbsp salt
freshly milled black pepper

Chanterelle hash
200 g diced pancetta
25 g butter
300 g parboiled mixture of chanterelles and funnel chanterelles
freshly milled black pepper
300 g cherry tomatoes, halved

Cauliflower purée
500 g cauliflower
1 large onion
2 - 3 cloves of garlic
1 litre water
2 tsp concentrated mushroom stock
1 dl créme fraîche
salt and pepper
grated nutmeg

Boiled potatoes


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160 °C (fan-assisted).
  2. Place the salmon on a plate and sprinkle all over with the sugar and salt. Let stand for 15 minutes.
  3. Pat it dry with kitchen tissue, sprinkle black pepper and fry in a hot non-stick pan or preferably a griddle pan so that it gets a nice surface colour. Note that the sugar will caramelise quite quickly, so watch it.
  4. Transfer to an oven-safe dish and finish cooking in the oven for a further 15 minutes.
  5. In a hot frying pan, fry the pancetta dice to get them nice, crispy and brown, then transfer to kitchen tissue and spread out to soak up the fat. Discard the fat from the pan.
  6. Put the pan back on the hob and melt the butter. Chop the mushrooms if they're large, then add to the pan and fry to warm through and pick up the buttery flavour.
  7. Return the pancetta to the pan and stir in with the mushrooms. Stir in the cherry tomatoes, then transfer to an oven-safe dish with a lid and place in the oven to keep warm.
  8. Wash the cauliflower and divide up into florets. Peel the onion and garlic and cut into chunks. Place all in a saucepan.
  9. Pour in the water and add the mushroom stock, then bring to the boil and let simmer for 15 minutes.
  10. Drain well and transfer to a deep dish. Add the créme fraîche and blend with a hand blender and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. If needed, transfer to an oven-safe dish with a lid and place in the oven to keep warm.
  11. Serve with the boiled potatoes

The original recipe didn't mention potatoes, the idea was to make a carb-free meal, but I fancied some tatties with this.

I made a couple mistakes with this recipe - I misread the instructions for the salmon and patted it dry before sprinkling sugar and salt. This resulted in a very salty piece of fish.

In addition to this, I completely forgot that pancetta tends to be very salty too, so I sprinkled salt over the mushrooms. Finally, the purée was quite tasteless, so I added a little seasoning to it and it then tasted ever so nice. But as a whole, we ended up with a very salty meal and ended up drinking a lot of water, both during and after eating.

I had 120 g of parboiled funnel chanterelles, so I spent most of yesterday reconstituting a 40 g packet of dried chanterelles to fill things out a bit. I've not done this exercise since that time a few years ago, when I'd reconstituted several of these really expensive dried mushrooms, used some of them and Lundulph in a helpful mood threw away the rest, thinking they were scraps. This time, he was at work and I tidied up before he came home, so things were safe and sound. The instructions state to rinse the mushrooms, then soak them for 20 minutes in warm water. This isn't good enough, you end up with tough leathery things. Instead I place the mushrooms in a large sieve, rinsed them, then rested the sieve over a plastic bowl. I then boiled a full kettle of water and poured it over the mushrooms. The bowl filled up and the mushrooms were completely covered. I left this until the water cooled down, then repeated a second time, and then a third time. I didn't save the liquid, because I remember it goes quite bitter.

I chopped the chanterelles to match the size of the funnel chanterelles and they mixed together pretty well.

Adding cherry tomatoes to the mushrooms was a bit of a novelty. The original recipe recommended using canned cherry tomatoes, but I've not seen such in my local supermarkets, so I opted for fresh ones. They wilted just a little and this is the idea, just to get them warmed through. Besides, looking at the photo next to the recipe, it looked like they'd used fresh cherry tomatoes as well. Cheeky!

I don't have a griddle pan, I've been thinking of getting one, but I can't motivate the purchase. So I used my normal pan to fry off the salmon and get a nice, and caramelised surface. And thanks to my new set of pans with removable handles, I put the pan straight in the oven and removed the handle. This is quite an improvement to my cooking I think.

As for cauliflower, I really like eating it raw, preferably with dips, or in pickle. My Mum usually parboils it as a whole head, sprinkles crumbs over it and bakes it until it's so tender it collapses on touch. I never liked it that way and so I still harbour reservations to cooked cauliflower. But this purée was a really nice surprise. Very tasty. Perhaps it's boiling it with the mushroom stock, onion and garlic and then adding the créme fraîche is what did it.

So on the whole quite a nice meal, which would have been even nicer if I'd followed the recipe more closely. Besides, I only had 350 g of salmon, which was just right for the two of us, but it means we have chanterelle hash and cauliflower purée left to deal with.

Thus the challenge of clearing out the fridge has started. Next, I've taken out a bag of ready mixture for Bulgarian meatballs to thaw, hopefully they'll work OK with our left-over side dishes.

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