Monday, February 26, 2007

Salmon fishing in Scotland Cookery

Cooking Perfect Salmon by Nick Nairn

Quick and easy

Preparation time 5-10 minutes

Serves 4

4 x 140g (5oz) salmon fillets or steaks

freshly ground sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

a squeeze of lemon juice

One of the greatest attractions of salmon is how well it adapts to different cooking methods. Whether steamed, poached, grilled, baked, fried, smoked or eaten raw as sachimi, each method produces different results in terms of texture and taste.

Whichever method you choose, it is vital not to overcook it. Really, it comes down to personal preference, but I believe that salmon should be served the same way as steak: medium rare. In practice, this means that the salmon should still be pink inside when it is served. To test, give it a gentle press or squeeze. Perfectly cooked salmon will give slightly, but not too much; if it's wobbly or jelly-like, then it's undercooked. Salmon which is firm to the touch is definitely overcooked and you'll find eating it akin to chewing on cotton wool.

Baking Preheat the oven to 200�C/400�F/Gas Mark 6. Dot the fillets with butter or drizzle with olive oil, season and place them on a greased baking tray. Put them in the oven for 7-8 minutes.

Char-grilling Using a ribbed cast-iron griddle pan is the easiest way to recreate the charred smoky flavour of the barbecue. To prevent the salmon sticking to the pan, make sure you oil the salmon, not the pan and don't be tempted to fiddle with the fillets while they're cooking. To form the characteristic "stripes", cook for two to three minutes on one side, then rotate the fish through 90� and cook for a further two minutes. Repeat on the other side. Season and serve.

Grilling Preheat the grill to the highest setting. Line the grill pan with foil, dot the salmon with butter or drizzle with olive oil and grill for two to three minutes on each side. Season and serve.

Pan-frying/searing Heat a non-stick frying pan until very hot, then add a little sunflower oil. For thin cuts, fry the fillets for 2-3 minutes on each side, to get a caramelized crust; for thicker cuts, reduce to a medium heat once the salmon has been added, then cook for 5-7 minutes on one side and a further 2 minutes on the other side. Season and serve.

Poaching Fill a wide frying pan with water, just deep enough to cover the fillets. Once the water is barely simmering, poach the fish for about 5 minutes, until opaque and just set. Using flavoured stock or even some lemon juice adds an extra dimension to the taste. For cold-poached salmon, slip the salmon into the simmering water, remove from the heat and leave to cool. The salmon will poach slowly in the cooling water. Season and serve.

Steaming This is the healthiest way to cook salmon. Throw some aromatic herbs, say tarragon or thyme into the base of a steamer, add water and bring to the boil. Place the salmon, lightly oiled, into the steamer basket, put on the lid and steam for 5-8 minutes, making sure the steamer doesn't boil dry. Season and serve. Nick Nairn's Top 100 Salmon Recipes.

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