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Author Notes: This recipe was inspired by a Fernand Point haute cuisine classic from the 1950s. Daniel Boulud modernized it by using individual sea bass fillets in his version. I made it my own by filling the croûte with a beautiful salmon loaf. The result is super delicious and spectacular to look at– but deceptively easy if you use store bought pastry sheets, which I am sure Fernad Point & Daniel Boulud would never do. - Sippity Sup (Greg Henry)
- 1 1/2 pounds boned and skinned raw salmon, cut into 1-inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons drained capers, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups panko (japanese) bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh squeezed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 tablespoon pepper
- 2 large egg, lightly beaten
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4" dice
- 1 stalk celery, cut into 1/4" dice
- 1 small zucchini, scrubbed, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1/2 red onion, chopped in 1/4 inch dice
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 egg yolks, beaten with 1 teaspoon water for egg wash
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 1 small shallot, minced
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 roma tomato, seeded and diced
- 2 tablespoons chives, minced
- salt & white pepper to taste
- 6 sheets store bought puff pastry, cut in half lengthwise forming 12 rectangles
- Salmon Loaves: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the salmon cubes several times until coarsely ground (there will still be flakes of salmon). Remove the ground salmon to a large bowl, and stir in the capers, bread crumbs, lemon juice, pepper, salt and egg until the mixture is uniform and fully combined. Divide the mixture into 6 oval loaves.
- Vegetables: Warm the olive oil in a large sauté pan or skillet set over medium-low heat. When it is hot add the vegetables and chopped thyme, season with salt and pepper. Cook the mixture, covered, until the vegetables are tender; about 12-15 minutes. Adjust seasoning. This is your last opportunity to do so with these vegetables.
- Croûte: Cut six pieces of parchment, slightly larger than your pastry rectangles and lay one out in front of you. Center one rectangle of pastry onto the parchment. Scoop about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the vegetables onto the center of the pastry. Don't use too much because if it gets onto the pastry in areas outside the parameter of the salmon loaf the pastry will be difficult to seal. Lay a salmon loaf on top of the vegetables, again I stress, keep the veggies completely underneath the salmon loaf. Lay another sheet of pastry on top of the salmon loaf. Letting the weight of the pastry be your guide, let the top piece drape over the fish and vegetables, allowing it to meet the bottom piece of pastry with out too much stretching.
- Using your fingers gently press the top of the packet until flat and smooth. Then press the dough up against the sides of the loaf sealing it in all around the bottom, right up against the loaf all the way to the edge of the pastry. Use the side of a knife to assure a good tight seal.
- Next you have 2 options. You could trim each packet with a 1/2" lip all the way around making a nice neat oval. Or you could be fanciful and shape each packet into an interesting shaped fish! Use the trimmings to form fins, gills, mouth and eyes. Be as creative as you like. You can even use various tools to form impression into the dough mimicking scales, be careful not to cut all the way through the pastry. Once you are finished shaping and decorating use your fingers to double check the seal all around the edges of the packet.
- Brush the surface of the dough with the egg wash, being careful not to let it drip onto the parchment as this would make it difficult to remove after baking. Carefully lift your finished product using the parchment paper to move it to a baking sheet. Place the finished product, baking sheet and all, into the refrigerator while you repeat the process five more times. They may be made ahead to this point up to one day in advance if well covered and refrigerated, though in that case I would reapply an egg wash just before cooking.
- To Cook: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F., and bake the fish for 5 minutes. Then lower the heat to 375 degrees F and bake 15 minutes more, or until the pastry is beautifully puffed and richly colored. Make the sauce while the fish cooks.
- Sauce: Warm the canola oil in a small saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add the shallot, cooking and stirring until the shallot gets soft but does not yet color; about 5 minutes. Pour in the cream and bring to a low boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Let the mixture cook until it is reduced some and thickened; about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the tomato and chives. Taste for seasoning.
- To Serve: Place each salmon loaf en croûte onto an individual plate, spooning a bit of sauce around, not over the croûte.
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