An easy, elegant dish for everyday or entertaining
Hosting a group of friends or family a whole lot easier when you’ve got a couple of sure-fire recipes up your sleeve. One of my favourites is melt-in-your mouth salmon wrapped in puff pastry – it’s one of the most impressive and delicious dishes you can serve for a party. Best of all, not only can you make the dill sauce ahead of time and reheat it later, you can also prepare the salmon parcels up to 12 hours before dinner then bake them just before serving. When your guests arrive, you’ll be relaxing on the couch with a cocktail, instead of rushing about in the kitchen. What could be better? As for wine pairing suggestions, a surprising (to me) match that turned out to be spectacular was the La Crema Russian River 2014 Pinot Noir, which was nice and dry yet also very full-bodied. It complemented the salmon and the slightly acidic dill sauce to perfection.
For the salmon
- 2 boneless, skinless salmon fillets (6 – 8 oz each / 170 – 225 g), halved lengthwise *
- 2 sheets parchment paper
- 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, thawed but still cold
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper
- Few sprigs fresh dill
- 1 egg, beaten
* fresh salmon is best as the fish will be drier, but you can use frozen salmon – just be sure it’s completely thawed and dry it extremely well with paper towel before wrapping in the puff pastry.
For the dill sauce
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) minced shallots
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) butter
- 1/2 cup (125 mL) white wine
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 (60 mL) cup chopped fresh dill
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) Dijon mustard
- 1/3 cup (90 mL) whipping cream
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) cold butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 egg yolk
- Start by laying out each sheet of puff pastry between two sheets of parchment paper. Gently roll them out, using a rolling pin, until they are approximately 12 x 14 inches or large enough to cut in half and wrap one piece of salmon with each piece of pastry. Cut each sheet in half to make two 6 x 7 inch rectangles.
- When you go to wrap the salmon, it’s going to be a lot like wrapping a gift or parcel – you’ll need just enough extra pastry to overlap on the long side, and a little extra for the ends.
- Pat your salmon pieces dry with paper towel. Make sure you have the mustard, salt and pepper plus dill sprigs and beaten egg close at hand so you can assemble the salmon packets promptly.
- Referring to the images above, place the pieces of salmon on the rectangles of puff pastry and spread the top of the salmon fillets with a teaspoon or two of Dijon mustard and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add a few sprinkles of chopped fresh dill.
- Paint the edges of the puff pastry rectangles with beaten egg then carefully fold the pastry over the fish and pinch gently to seal. Roll the ends up over themselves to seal, but not over top of the fish as it will be too thick to cook properly. Don’t worry if your parcel isn’t perfect – you’re going to flip it over and place it seam side down.
- Place the wrapped salmon parcels (seam side down) on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush each one with the beaten egg. Refrigerate until ready to cook. No need to cover it if you’ll be cooking it within 2 hours; if resting for longer, drape plastic wrap over top. They can rest for up to 12 hours.
- To cook the salmon, place the baking sheet in the oven, preheated to 400F. Bake for 20 – 22 minutes until pastry is golden brown. Note that these times are for salmon fillets about one inch thick; thinner ones will cook a few minutes more quickly.
- While salmon bakes, prepare a quick dill sauce by combining in a small pot over medium heat the minced shallots and garlic with 1 tbsp (15 mL) butter. When sizzling, add white wine.
- As soon as it comes to a boil, add lemon juice, and chopped fresh dill. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.
- Add Dijon and whipping cream and blend well with a fork or whisk.
- Continue cooking 2 minutes, then whisk in cold butter, cut into small cubes.
- Finish the sauce by whisking the egg yolk in a small bowl. Add three tablespoons of the hot sauce to the yolk, one tablespoon at a time, whisking after each addition.
- Return the egg yolk mixture to the pot and cook, whisking constantly, for two minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place in a warmed jug and pass it at the table. The sauce can be made ahead of time and gently reheated but do not let it come to a boil.
- To plate the salmon, cut each parcel in half on the diagonal and drizzle with a little bit of the sauce. I like to serve this dish with mashed potatoes and steamed green beans.
Serves 4, can easily be doubled, tripled or quadrupled.
Psssst: Looking for another great make-ahead fish dish? This one’s a real kid pleaser!