Salmon and crème fraîche shots topped with watercress purée and pickled cucumber


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The cupboards in my kitchen are cluttered beyond belief. Full to the brim with pots, plates, pans, bowls, trays, cups, cutlery, glassware, gadgets, appliances and stuff. Loads and loads of . . . stuff. Matter that has accumulated over time and gawd knows where it has all come from. So in the New Year I really must make a good effort to go through everything and have a proper clear out. It’s probably too early to make resolutions but I think that will be it for me; to tidy up my kitchen and get it sorted out once and for all. Unless of course, that idea gets superseded by any other crisis looming on the horizon. I’ve yet to touch a drop of port and go through the annual hangover from hell yet. Yes, not drinking too much alcohol in 2016 might just edge in front. We shall wait and see.

Going back to the promised big tidy up, the problem is that I am often loathed to let anything go. The dusty pasta machine that gets used once a year. The treasured and battered old wok that has no handle. Round bits of metal, that are great for creating neat stacks of food, to be placed in the centre of plates, drizzled by ‘jus’ and last used in 2002. No, I must be hard on myself this year and bite the bullet.

But, the one thing you will not see me chucking out is my treasured shot glasses from IKEA! You will have to pry my treasured snapps dispensers from my cold dead hands to get hold of them. I don’t know why I am so fond of them mind. They got regular use when I used to run a supperclub at home, to house palate cleansing sorbets or little thwacks of parsley soup, to keep guest’s bouches well amused. I haven’t used them for a long while though.

However, I think I have come up with a novel recipe to bring them out into the light once more. Namely salmon and crème fraîche shots, with dill, ao kyuuri (cucumber) and watercress purée. OK, the setup here is quite familiar. Salmon paired with rich cream and flavoured with aniseed herbs is a tried and tested festive favourite. Throw some pickled cucumber into the mix and everything suddenly feels quite Nordic. Except that these pickles or ao kyuuri are quite different, as they are defiantly brackish in comparison to regular gherkins. Deeply savoury rather than tangy and as such, you might want to adjust the lemon used in this recipe to suit your own tastes.

Though do look good though, when used to top a small dot of crème fraîche, set on a shallow sea of fresh, green watercress purée. You can use any sort of small glass to serve this salmon dish up as canapé. You could even use ramekins. But try and get your hands on some delicate glasses if you can.

Once washed up and left on the side, when you are not looking, the elves like to drink from them you see (He says, whilst partaking in a wee nip of Christmas port).




Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
To begin, take your salmon fillets and lay them on some foil, approximately 25cm square. Drizzle with some of the olive oil and season liberally with the salt and pepper then place a few lemon slices on top
Wrap the foil around the fish to create a bag that is sealed at the edges and place in the oven for 12–15 minutes, or until the salmon is just cooked through
Take out the salmon and leave it to cool, then flake into a bowl using a fork. Mix in 100g of the crème fraîche and stir in the dill. Finely chop half of the pickled cucumber and add to the bowl, along with a dash of lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour
For the watercress purée, bring a saucepan of salted water to the boil and add the watercress. Cover and bring to the boil again (this should take about 1 minute maximum) then drain and plunge the leaves into a bowl of iced water
Drain the watercress again, reserving just a couple of tablespoons of the water, then place in a blender and blitz to a purée. Use the leftover water to thin the purée if necessary and season with salt and pepper
To serve, divide the salmon between glasses then top with a layer of the watercress purée. Finish by dotting some of the remaining crème fraîche in the centre and add half a slice of pickled cucumber to each glass
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