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Salmon or Trout en Croute, i.e. wrapped in pastry

Everyone loves receiving their own little parcel on a plate, it not only looks stunning but has the familiar feeling of receiving a present or building your own cubby house. The other wonderful thing about this dish is you can prep almost all of it in advance, be relaxed with your guests and still serve something that looks special and magic. So is a great one for special occasions and easily doubles up to feed more - all the parcels are cooked at once in the oven so serving a larger crowd depends on how many you can fit on the tray in your oven really.

This is a lighter version of the classic Salmon en Croute you would normally find in French restaurants, using filo rather than puff pastry, and much simpler to prepare.

Recipe based on one by UK chef Antony Worrall Thompson.

Pictured: Trout en Croute

Dill Butter
175g/6oz unsalted butter, softened
1 tbsp fresh dill, roughly chopped
pinch salt and ground black pepper
juice ½ lemon

Pea and watercress purée

20g unsalted butter and 1 tbsp light olive oil
6 spring onions, finely sliced
175g/6oz frozen peas
1 tsp sugar
300ml/½pint vegetable stock
1 bag watercress, or substitute with rocket

Trout or Salmon

4 x  Trout or Salmon fillet, skinned and sliced in half lengthways – ask the fishmonger to do this, and for 4 even pieces (this is important for the cooking timing, plus the butter will be in between for flavour)
1 packet shop bought filo pastry – I like the Antoniou brand
Extra light olive oil/ rice bran spray, plus a little melted butter for brushing the filo

Dill Butter – mix all ingredients together, cover and set aside

Purée – Warm a frypan with the oil and add the onions, cook til soft. Add the peas, sugar, stock and butter and bring to a good simmer – cover with a lid or a piece of baking paper (known as a cartouche) to sweat the vegetables a few minutes. Add the watercress and cook a minute to soften and evaporate any remaining liquid. Blend til smooth.

Trout/Salmon – you will use at least 2 sheets filo per fillet (add a 3rd if you find it is too flimsy) – lay one down and spray with oil or brush with melted butter, lay the 2nd piece on top and spray again, fold in half. Place a small dollop of puree in the middle (not too much or the pastry will become too wet and start breaking apart), place the bottom half of the fish fillet on top, spread some dill butter, then add the second top half of the fish and a little more dill butter – fold the filo neatly into a parcel, or bring sides up and twist like a purse. Brush some melted butter on top and place in the fridge til ready to cook, repeat for the rest of the fillets – the butter will harden and help the parcel keep its shape, plus you can make this all in advance ready in the fridge til just before serving time.

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Prepare all side dishes – I like to serve this with either come boiled baby potatoes, or a salad with pine nuts, avocado and cucumber.

Cook the trout/salmon 12 minutes until the pastry is golden. Serve on a bed of remaining purée, with chosen side dishes.

Serves 4