Sunday, 24 August 2014

Cider Poached Scottish Salmon and Quail Eggs Salad

Scottish salmon poached in cider is served with hard boiled quail eggs salad

Poaching is definitely my favourite way of cooking salmon. It is important, however, not to let the poaching liquid boil. The way I poach it is by adding the salmon to the cool liquid and seasonings, bringing it up to only the slightest signs of a simmer before turning the heat off to let the salmon cook to juicy, succulent perfection as the liquid cools. The seasonings you add to the liquid with the salmon are of course endlessly variable but this combination works - I believe - especially well.

Fresh Scottish salmon fillet

Ingredients (Serves One)

1 fresh salmon fillet, skin on
1 small carrot, washed, topped and roughly chopped
1/2 small red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 pint cider
1 pint cold water
4 fresh quail eggs
2 generous handfuls mixed salad leaves of choice
Fresh cress to garnish

Salmon poaching flavourings


Lay the salmon fillet skin side down in your poaching pot. Add the carrot, onion and herbs, seasoning further with a little bit of salt.
Salmon and poaching accompaniments

White wine would of course be a more common form of alcohol for incorporating in the poaching liquid. I happened to have some homemade cider available, however, which I had been given by a friend so I decided to give it a go. It definitely worked well, adding just that extra little welcome something to the final flavour of the salmon.

Homemade apple cider

Pour the cider over the salmon and add the cold water. Make sure that the salmon fillet is comfortably and fully covered. If not, add enough extra water to make this the case.

Salmon ready for poaching

Put the pot on a medium to high heat just until the liquid starts to simmer. It is imperative not to let it boil. As soon as this is the case, switch off the heat, lift the pot to a cool part of your hob or stove, cover and leave to cool completely. You're looking at an hour at least.

Isle of Gigha farmed quail eggs

Quail eggs are delicious little treats but the one drawback is that their size makes them a little bit awkward to deal with, however you choose to cook them. These eggs were bought from the Loch Fyne Oyster Bar and are actually farmed on the little Isle of Gigha off the Argyll coast.

Fresh quail eggs

I used four quail eggs here (reserving the others for different purposes) but you can use more or less if you wish.

Quail eggs ready for boiling

Sit the quail eggs in a small pot and pour in enough cold water to ensure they are covered by at least an inch of water. Put the pot on a medium to high heat until the water nears the boil. Reduce the heat to achieve a moderate simmer for two minutes.

Cooling boiled quail eggs

It's essential to cool the quail eggs quickly if they are not firstly to overcook, and secondly, develop that unattractive blue-grey tinge around the edges of the yolk. The first step for doing this is to take the pot straight to your sink when the eggs are done and run cold water in it until the eggs are cool enough to handle.

Very carefully, crack the shells on a hard surface all around. I used a wooden chopping board. You may also find it easier to actually peel the eggs while they are submerged in water. You can simply use the pot still in your sink. Take your time with this - especially if you've never done it before - as the eggs can easily be damaged. When the eggs are peeled, submerge them again in cold water for ten minutes to completely cool.

Hard boiled and peeled quail eggs

The salmon will not probably look too appetising at this stage but don't worry, that is soon rectified.

Cooled poached salmon

What you may find is that a large amount of the dill has stuck to the salmon fillet. Carefully wipe off the excess with your hand before lifting the salmon fillet to a plate.

Cider poached salmon fillet

The skin should easily peel off the salmon in one piece. It should now be discarded.

Skin should peel easily from cooled poached salmon fillet

Carefully flake the salmon with your fingers in to large pieces. You should also at this stage take the opportunity to feel for and remove any remaining bones.

Poached salmon is carefully flaked in to large pieces

Wash the salad leaves carefully in a colander under running cold water and shake dry. Arrange them in the bottom of your serving dish, seasoning them with a little salt as you do so.

Mixed salad leaves bed for salmon and quail eggs

Cut the quail eggs carefully in half and arrange with the salmon pieces over the salad at regular intervals. Garnish with the cress to serve.

Salmon and halved quail eggs are arranged on salad bed

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