A large salmon with several complications

Vince Garreffa tells us that you should cook every dish twice; once for yourself and then for your guests. Such careful hospitality is lost on me. I’m a ‘sharing the journey’ host.

One large salmon. Instead of merely poaching it, I’d make a court bouillon, freeze the court boullion, place the frozen boullion in a vacuum sealer bag with the whole salmon, vacuum seal the bag and then cook it sous vide. Remove gently cooked salmon from bag, remove skin and cover with cucumbers to resemble scales.

The logic was impeccable. The salmon would be gently poached in water but trapped in a sealed bag with a smaller volume of flavoursome stock. The genius part was freezing the court bouillon so it didn’t end up being sucked into the pump of the vacuum sealer. It also meant it could be done well ahead of time without the fish marinating.

salmon sealed

In retrospect, when the salmon was sealed in a bag with what looked like a pink urinal cake, it should have been a sign of trouble to come but it all came with sound reasons. The carrots, red onions and the white wine turned the court boullion into a pinkish shade. It was just unfortunate that I chose a flat bottomed pudding bowl to freeze it in.

Moving on. Three kilogram salmon are long. Long than any pot or dish you’ll own and longer than any commercially available disposable roasting tray. I used the disposable roasting tray and it looked like a tall man who’d mistakenly booked in for a night at a hobbit bed and breakfast. The weight of the salmon slowly pushed down the sides and simmering water would leak out onto the burners until they filled with water and made a sad gurgling sound.

At this point I realised I had to either change tack or accept the fact that guests would have to suffer food poisoning. It was a tough call but I eventualy wrapped the half poached salmon in foil and tried to fit it in the oven to finish it off. It fitted at an angle, once I snapped the tail off and was eventually cooked at a gentle temperature.

The good bit was that I sliced a whole burpless cucumber on a mandoline without losing any bits of fingers. Skin taken off the salmon and the grey bits gently scraped off and the cucumber ‘scales’ added – they hid the ‘join’ on the tail.
It was also damned tasty.
poached salmon

Notes: the court bouillon I used comes from here and adjusted – half a bottle of Semillon Sauvignon Blanc, a cup of water, a handful of parsley, a twigs of thyme, half a dozen peppercorns, 2 bay leaves, a chopped red onion, one sliced carrot, one sliced stick of celery with leaves, juice of half a lemon and a tsp of salt.
Simmered for half an hour and then strained.

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  1. Gustoso’s avatar

    I've never seen cucumber on fish like that before. That's a cute effect.

  2. Matt C’s avatar

    Do you have a thermal immersion circulator for sous vide? If so, where did you get it? Also, where did you get your vacuum sealer?

  3. Gracianne’s avatar

    I like the concept of "sharing the journey". life is full of surprises.

    Next time try one of these maybe : http://www.meilleurduchef.com/cgi/mdc/l/fr/boutique/produits/mfr-poissonniere60.html

  4. Anthony’s avatar

    It's all cucumber on fish action here, Gustoso.

    No, they're ludicrously overpriced and if I had one it'd be because I'd made out of an old kettle and a thermostat – except I probably wouldn't. The Sunbeam range of vacuum sealers are very reasonably priced and can be bought at the Good Guys.

    Today's surprise, tomorrow's anecdote…
    I think you need a country manor to own one of those.

  5. Gracianne’s avatar

    I wonder if my house qualifies as a country manor, I do own one. Or rather it belongs to my mother in law, who has a small kitchen in Paris ;)

  6. Anthony’s avatar

    It does!
    I heard she had to open a window to use it.

  7. Matt C’s avatar

    I've read about these "Sous Vide Magic" machines (http://freshmealssolutions.com/index.php?page=shop.product_details&category_id=15&flypage=flypage-ask.tpl&product_id=18&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=31&vmcchk=1&Itemid=31), basically a thermostat that connects to a rice cooker or something similar, they're $140 US plus shipping (which would probably be a lot to Perth… I'm just not sure whether they're any good or not.

  8. Anthony’s avatar

    For your money and with a bit more everyday functionality, maybe look into one of those benchto more funp induction heaters with the temperature control.

    OR more fun but still with an eye to precision temperature regulation; one of these and JOY DIVISION OVEN GLOVES

  9. Anthony’s avatar

    Hmmm "benchto more funp" should read "benchtop"

  10. Zoe’s avatar

    I have a vacuum sealer and a fish poacher from Aldi. In all likliehood we’re but minutes away from their thermal immersion circulator special.

  11. Anthony’s avatar

    I’m warming to the idea

  12. Anette’s avatar

    What you where trying to do sounds like “INKOKT LAX” (thats swedish for – salmon boiled in stock). Would you like to have my swedish recipe where you cock the salmon in the oven in for 20 minutes and lets it cool of in the stock for taste?? I serve it just like you with sliced cucumbers, freshly cocked potatoes and “dillmajonäs” or hollandaisesauce. It´s one of my favorite dishes and when I was a kid this was what I wanted for birthdaydinner. ;D

  13. Anthony’s avatar

    Hi Anette

    It sounds like a poached Chinese Chicken recipe with the cook and cool methid. Yes please for the recipe!

  14. Dale Prentice’s avatar

    Australia finally has a dedicated site to the wounders of Sous Vide cookery

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