Friday, 27 May 2016

Confit Salmon - Sous Vide

Had confit salmon in a fancy restaurant and fancy having a go yourself?

Well, it's disgracefully easy, so get on in there and have a go! The usual disclaimers apply as do for consuming raw salmon (fresh, sush-grade fish etc.) if you want to make this at home.

I'd recommend that this is most appropriate served as a starter rather than a main - it's rather rich! Also because in this case, the confit method and temperature doesn't actually 'cook' the salmon, but more 'changes its texture' slightly; it is quite a soft consistency, so you will want contrasting textures with it (i.e. vegetables with a bit of a crunch, whether fresh, or cooked until crisp), and because of its richness, maybe something with a bit of acidity, i.e. lemon juice, or fresh, lightly 'pickled' vegetables to counteract this. For the record, we had it with Anya potatoes, and a mixture of sliced baby courgettes, petit pois and a little samphire tossed in a pan with some butter and a squeeze of lemon juice... it was a nice combination, but as I said, best in starter portions!

Feel free to throw in your own fresh herbs and spices with the dry brine, I'll be interested to hear whether you think you can taste them after cooking!

Serves four as a starter (or two as a main, if you think you can take it on!).

  • 240g skinless, boneless salmon fillets, brown meat removed
  • 5g fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp soft brown sugar (or you could use unrefined / raw sugar)
  • 100ml/g extra virgin olive oil (or enough to cover it in a small pan if you don't have a water bath, and want to confit the salmon in oil the traditional way, using a thermometer. If cooking in oil, it's best to heat to to 55C before adding the salmon, as the temperature will drop when you add it)

Science says that the molecules of other flavourings in a marinade or brine are too large to penetrate the flesh, and only provide surface flavouring. I have to admit, after using these, and washing them off before cooking, I couldn't really detect them after cooking... but if you want to test this yourself, then go for it!
  • Grated zest 1/2 lemon
  • Small handful chopped fresh dill (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • Freshly ground black pepper

1. Prepare the salmon, and cut into four even-sized fillets for starter portions (or two portions for mains) if necessary. Pat dry, and then coat evenly in the salt and sugar mixture (with optional ingredients if desired). Cover and refrigerate to cure for an hour. Meanwhile pre-heat the water bath to 45C.

Wash off the cure, then pat dry. Measure the oil into a sous vide, or food safe bag (with a resealable seal, i.e. ziploc etc.), add the salmon, and remove the air from the bag (you can do this using the water displacement method, or simply roll and gently squeeze it out of the bag, if you don't have a chamber vacuum sealer).

3. Add the salmon to the pre-heated water bath, and cook for 25 minutes. Remove, drain the oil, and gently place the salmon on kitchen paper to soak up any excess oil, then serve warm (with accompaniments).

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