Poached Salmon with Cucumber, Chives & Cream

Poached Salmon


Serves 4
  • 2 small cucumbers
  • 2 large shallots, chopped [not huge bananas]
  • 4-5 parsley sprigs, roughly chopped
  • 4-5 sprigs dill, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt                
  • Bay leaf, broken in half
  • A few peppercorns
  • 1 thumb-size knob of ginger, sliced
  • 400mls water
  • 150mls Lillet [or sweet vermouth]
  • 100g smoked salmon off cuts roughly chopped
  • 500g fillet of fresh salmon [Waitrose, please, and it comes in a packet at that exact weight]
  • 4 leaves gelatine, soaked in cold water
  • 200mls double cream
  • Juice of a lemon
  • 1 small bunch chives, finely chopped
  • Large pinch cayenne
  • 12 new potatoes [I prefer pink fir apples], washed
  • Knob of butter
  • Watercress, stalks removed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil


  1. Peel one of the cucumbers [keep peel], chop the other into small chunks. Cut the peeled cucumber in half, deseed with a teaspoon [put the cucumber halves in a small plastic bag and keep in the fridge until later], then add the seeds to the peelings and chopped cucumber and put all of this into a stainless steel pan. Now add the parsley, dill, salt, peppercorns and ginger to the pan. Cover with water and pour in the Lillet. Bring up to a boil, then allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the smoked salmon off cuts and continue simmering for a further 10 minutes.
  2. Using a fine sieve, strain the cucumber/smoked salmon stock into another stainless steel pan. Extract every last drop then place this pan of stock on the stove. Just bring it to a simmer and then add the salmon fillet, skin side up.
  3. Remove from the heat, put on a lid and leave to finish cooking for 15-20 minutes. Have a poke at the fish after 15 minutes to check whether it is cooked through; it should be only just cooked through in the centre.
  4. Remove from the stock and put onto a plate. While it’s still warm, use a small knife to carefully remove any skin and unsightly brown parts. Cover with cling film and cool completely before putting in the fridge.
  5. Bring the stock to a simmer and remove any unsightly scum that rises to the surface by laying a piece of kitchen paper over the surface and then lifting it off. Allow the stock to reduce by about a quarter and then sieve into a bowl to remove any last remains of salmon.
  6. Soak the gelatine in a cup of water for a couple of minutes and then add to the bowl. After about 10 minutes, stir in the cream. Now place in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours, or more. This, eventually, will be a sauce for the salmon.
  7. Remove the reserved, peeled cucumber from the fridge and slice into little half-moon shapes. Lightly season with salt and pepper then strew these into a shallow serving dish to cover the base evenly.
  8. Break up the salmon with your fingers to make an even layer over the cucumber.
  9. Remove the 'sauce' from the fridge, add the chives and then whisk [an electric hand-whisk is best for this] until absolutely smooth and creamy. Add the cayenne pepper and 2tsp lemon juice then carefully spoon over the salmon until fully coated. Return to the fridge until ready to serve; if possible, for at least 10 minutes or so, to give the sauce a little time to set once again. You may, of course, leave it there until you are ready to serve, but not longer than an hour or two.
  10. Immerse the potatoes in a pan of cold water, add salt and bring to the boil. Once the potatoes are tender (around ten minutes) drain and then remove the skins while still hot as this will be much easier.
  11. Return the potatoes to a pan with the melted butter and move them around on a very low heat until nice and glossy. Season with coarse sea salt and black pepper.
  12. Place the watercress in a salad bowl and add lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix gently by hand.