Confit of salmon, apple and lemon verbena
Special equipment: blender, cooking thermometer, sous-vide (optional).
I created this delicate dish with subtle hints of flavours over a decade ago and it’s still a classic at Le Manoir. To achieve it I cured salmon fillets lightly, then applied a very low heat – just enough to lose the rawness, but ensuring the salmon would keep its wonderful colour. The texture was melting and the flavour delicate. Here I use the advantages of the sous-vide technique. As the food is cooked in a pouch under vacuum at a low temperature, the flavours, colours and textures are superior; you also minimise the loss of nutrients. However, as most domestic kitchens do not have a sous-vide machine, I have also given you the method I used before I acquired one; it works perfectly.
|For the Cured Salmon|
|480g Organic or sustainable salmon fillet, skinned|
|1 tsp chopped dill|
|1 tsp chopped lemon verbena|
|¼ grated zest of lemon|
|10g sea salt|
|1 tsp caster sugar|
|2 pinches of freshly ground|
|For the apple purée|
|2 large Braeburn apples|
|2 tbsp water|
|squeeze of lemon juice|
|For the apple and lemon verbena jelly|
|250g apple juice, ideally freshly juiced Discovery apples|
|20g lemon verbena, chopped|
|1g agar agar|
|For marinating the apples|
|10g lemon verbena, roughly chopped|
|100ml extra virgin olive oil (40ml if using sous-vide technique)|
|2 Cox’s Orange Pippin apples|
|For cooking the salmon|
|400ml extra virgin olive oil (200ml if using sous-vide technique)|
|1 lemon verbena sprig|
|For the garnish|
|a few drops of verbena oil from the marinated apples (above)|
|micro sorrel or other tiny salad leaves|
|1 tbsp crème fraîche (optional)|
|1 tsp osetra caviar (optional)|
You can cure the salmon, marinate the apples and make the apple purée a day in advance.
To cure the salmon
Place the salmon fillet in a shallow dish. Mix together the ingredients for curing and distribute evenly over the fish. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 1 hour (*1). Wash off the marinade and pat the salmon dry. Cut into 4 portions, place on a plate, cover and refrigerate.
To make the apple purée
Peel, core and dice the apples. Put into a medium saucepan with the water and lemon juice, cover with a tight-fitting lid and cook over a high heat for 8 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool down quickly over ice. Purée in a blender until smooth, then transfer to a bowl and set aside.
To make the apple and lemon verbena jelly
In a medium saucepan, bring the apple juice to just under a simmer (about 80°C). Take off the heat, add the lemon verbena and set aside to infuse for 8 minutes. Now whisk in the agar agar (*2) and bring gently to the boil, whisking all the time until the liquid is clear. Pass through a fine muslin-lined sieve into ice-cube trays or other small containers and allow to set at room temperature.
To marinate the apples in verbena oil
In a small saucepan over a medium heat, bring the chopped verbena and olive oil to about 60°C; remove from the heat and set aside to infuse. Once cooled, blitz in a blender for 3–5 seconds, then pass through a fine sieve into a bowl and reserve. Halve the apples, cut into 5mm slices and lay in a shallow tray. Pour the lemon verbena oil over the apple slices and leave to marinate for 2–3 hours. Alternatively, place the apple slices in a medium sous-vide pouch, add the verbena oil and vacuum pack (*3). Marinate as above.
To cook the salmon
Line a small, shallow sauté pan with a piece of greaseproof paper, pour in the olive oil and heat to 42°C. Add the salmon portions (*4) with the lemon verbena and ‘confit’ for 25 minutes, maintaining the temperature. Lift out the salmon, drain and place on kitchen paper to remove excess oil. Alternatively, if using a sous-vide, preheat the water bath to 42°C (*5). Slide your salmon portions into a medium sous-vide pouch, adding the olive oil and sprig of verbena. Vacuum pack and cook in the water bath for 25 minutes. Remove the salmon fillets from the bag and drain as above.
Place a portion of warm salmon6 in the middle of each plate. Surround with tiny spoonfuls of the apple purée, nuggets of jelly, marinated apple slices, drops of verbena oil and micro leaves. Spoon the crème fraîche on top of the salmon and finish with the caviar, if using.
As a simple alternative, serve the cured salmon with a cucumber salad lightly dressed with a dill and mustard or horseradish dressing.