The Sign of the Fish

Poached Salmon

We will all have seen the intersecting arcs fish symbol originally adopted by early Christians as a secret sign.

The “sign of the fish” or “Jesus fish” is as modern as it is ancient and fish are often given symbolic meaning in the Bible, whether it is the apostles being described as “fishers of men” or Jesus feeding the five thousand by multiplying the loaves and fishes.  

“Many shoppers tend to stick to pre-prepared fillets because they find preparing a whole fish daunting and they’re not sure what to do with it. However, a whole salmon centrepiece can look very impressive and is really a lot simpler to prepare than people realise” Says Darren.

Darren’s view is backed up by research, which shows that although salmon is a firm favourite, few of us do cook a whole one.

New Asda research reveals that nearly half of the British (47%) have never cooked a whole fish. Even though we love eating fish – with 61% saying salmon is their top choice - over a third (36%) admit to not knowing how to prepare a whole fish, and although 40% of us regularly cook fish fillets, only one in ten cook with a whole fish.

When asked what put shoppers off, a third (30%) surveyed said they thought it would be too fussy to prepare, while a quarter wary of the bones that come with cooking a whole fish. 

I was intrigued to see Darren prepare the whole salmon with ease. My only tip would be to make sure you have a very sharp knife, a large baking tray and a big enough oven!

Fresh, whole salmon is available all year round from fish counters. It is an excellent source of high quality protein, containing all the essential amino acids. It is rich in minerals and contains vitamins A, D, B6 and B12. Salmon is also a good source of Vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant, which lowers the risk of heart disease.

People who eat fish are thought to be healthier thanks to the omega-3 fats, said to keeps the heart healthy and decreases the risk of coronary heart disease.

Salmon is easy to digest and is an excellent food so why not give the whole salmon touch this Easter.  If you are not quite ready to do the filleting yourself, they will do it for you at the Asda fish counter.

Poached Salmon garnished with Lemon Wedges, Asparagus Tips and Dill

This recipe will serve 6 people 

Ingredients needed: 

1 skin-on poached salmon fillet (fillet taken from a whole salmon)
6 slices of Extra Special Smoked Salmon
6 thinly sliced halves of lemons
6 sprigs of dill
1 tub of Asda Cream Cheese with Garlic and Herbs
6 asparagus tips (blanched) 

Cooking instructions: 

Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/ Gas mark 7
Create a foil parcel for the salmon (with an opening at the top), then place the salmon parcel in an oven dish/tray
Fill the parcel ¾ full with water; add a tablespoon of sea salt and juice from a freshly squeezed lemon
Seal the foil parcel and bake until the salmon is opaque in the centre and starting to flake – about 15 to 25 minutes depending on the thickness of the salmon
Remove the salmon from the foil parcel and place the fillet on your chosen presentation dish or chopping board
Gently brush the side of the salmon with water to remove the protein (the white stuff)
Allow to cool for five to 10 minutes
Once cooled, place slices of smoked salmon along one side of the fillet
Place small sprigs of dill down the middle of the salmon at a slight angle and top with a wedge of lemon on the centre of the dill
Place a teaspoon of cream cheese to the side of each lemon wedge
Top with blanched asparagus tips for the perfect fish centrepiece 

Salmon En Croute filled with Parsley, Lemon and Pepper Butter 

This recipe will serve 6 people 

Ingredients needed: 

2 skin-less salmon fillets (fillets taken from a whole salmon)
Bunch of flat leaf parsley
1 lemon
3 lemon and pepper butter ovals (available from the fish counter)
Cracked black pepper
Sea salt
Cup of milk
2 sheets ready rolled puff pastry
1 sheet of baking paper

Cooking instructions: 

Pre-heat the oven to 230oC/ Gas mark 8
Lay a sheet of greaseproof paper on a oven dish/tray, and on top of this lay flat one sheet of rolled out pastry
Place one salmon fillet on top of the pastry, skin down (if the fillet is too long for the pastry tuck the tail under to fit)
Along the middle of the fillet place sprigs of flat leaf parsley, then finely grate the lemon over the parsley, along with some cracked black pepper
Crumble on the lemon and pepper butter ovals for additional flavour
Place the second salmon fillet skin side down on a chopping board and season with sea salt and cracked black peppe
Once seasoned place the second fillet on top of the other fillet skinless side down
Brush the visible edge of the pastry with milk, then lay the second sheet of pastry on top of the salmon
Using the side of your hand go around the edge of the fillet and seal the pastry together, cutting off any excess pastry
Using the excess pastry decorate the top of the en croute and brush the top layer of pastry with milk
Place the salmon en croute on the middle shelf of the pre-heated oven and cook for 30-35 minutes or until the pastry has gone a light golden brown colour

Salmon Fillets Stuffed with Cod

This recipe will serve 8 people 

Ingredients needed: 

2 skin-on salmon fillets (fillets taken from a whole salmon)
Approx. 300g skinless cod loin
2 lemons
Sprig of dill
Salt and pepper for seasoning 

Cooking instructions: 

Pre-heat the oven to/200oC /Gas mark 5
Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper
Cut six pieces of string (measure from hand to elbow) and lay along the width of the baking tray
Place one fillet in the middle of the string, skin side down
Season well with cracked black pepper and sea salt, then place five wedges of lemon across the salmon fillet
Place a layer of cod in the middle of the salmon (about three fillets), and squeeze the juice of one lemon over the cod
Lay the second fillet on the work surface, skin side down, season with sea salt and cracked black pepper
Place the second fillet on top of the first fillet so the skin is upwards. To secure the fish take both ends of string wrap around the salmon and tie in little bows, finally season with sea salt and cracked black pepper and drizzle over a little olive oil

Place the salmon filled with cod in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes, until the skin has gone crispy.

Poppy Watt