Poached whole salmon with herb mayonnaise

Poached whole salmon with herb mayonnaise

Leiths How to Cook
Peter Cassidy


Quantity Ingredient
1 whole salmon or salmon trout, about 2–2.5 kg (see note)
bunch watercress
1 cucumber
freshly ground black pepper

For the court bouillon

Quantity Ingredient
1 onion
1 carrot
1/2 bunch parsley
3 bay leaves
10 black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 litres water
600ml white wine vinegar

For the glaze

Quantity Ingredient
2 teaspoons powdered gelatine
300ml court bouillon, cooled

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
2 lemons
1 quantity Mayonnaise, using herb mayonnaise variation


  1. For the court bouillon, halve, peel and slice the onion. Peel and thinly slice the carrot. Place the vegetables and aromatics in a fish kettle or large heatproof pan in which the fish can lie flat. Pour in the water, add the wine vinegar and bring to a simmer over a low to medium heat. Simmer for 15–20 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  2. Descale and gut the fish, then place in the cooled court bouillon. A fish kettle will have its own internal tray to help lift the fish in and out but if you do not have a fish kettle, fold 3 long sheets of foil into 5 cm-wide straps to support the fish when lowering it in to poach and for removing it after poaching. Place over a medium heat and heat until a small bubble breaks the surface occasionally.
  3. Poach the fish for about 5 minutes per 500 g. Check every 10 minutes from the point at which the liquid comes to a poach. When the dorsal fin pulls away, the fish is cooked. Also check the belly area to ensure the flesh has changed colour from translucent to opaque. Remove from the heat and leave the fish to cool in the liquor, then carefully lift it out onto a tray. It can be kept overnight in the fridge to firm a little before boning. Reserve the court bouillon.
  4. To make the glaze, sprinkle the gelatine over the cooled court bouillon in a small saucepan and sponge for 5 minutes, then gently dissolve over a low heat. When fully dissolved, set aside to cool, but don’t leave until set; it must still be pourable.
  5. Peel and very thinly slice the cucumber, using a mandolin or very sharp knife. Blanch the cucumber slices in boiling water for 10 seconds, then refresh in cold water, drain and dry. Set aside. Wash and pick over the watercress and set aside. Cut the lemons for serving into wedges and set aside.
  6. Turn the poached fish over on the tray. You need to work with the side that was against the tray first. Carefully and neatly cut away the head and tail and set aside.
  7. Pull away the skin covering the fillet. Using a thin bladed knife, scrape away the brown flesh. Divide the fillet along the natural line covering the back bone and gently prise the half fillets away from the bone. Using a palette knife to support the half fillet, transfer it to a serving platter and turn it upside down, so the boned side is uppermost. Repeat with the second half fillet and match it up with the first half to create a whole fillet. Scrape away any fat, especially from the belly area. Run your fingers along the flesh and pin-bone it.
  8. Remove the fish frame from the second fillet by carefully pulling it away from the fish, while supporting the fish. Discard the frame and scrape away any fat from the belly area. Pin-bone the second fillet. Using a palette knife to support the whole fillet, transfer it to the platter and turn it over onto the prepared bottom fillet, so the skin is now uppermost. Pull away the skin, carefully scrape away the brown flesh and discard it. Neaten both fillets.
  9. Trim the tail and head and place on the platter as if to re-form the fish. Brush a little of the glaze over the fish and arrange the cucumber discs in a scale pattern, starting from the middle of the fish to reveal some of the salmon (or from the tail to cover the whole fish) and overlapping towards the head; the glaze acts as glue. Brush the fish with the glaze again to give it a shine and prevent it from drying out.
  10. Place a small bunch of watercress between the tail and fillet and between the head and fillet. Serve with the lemon wedges and herb mayonnaise.


  • To cook a smaller fish, poach as above for 2 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave the fish to finish cooking in the hot court bouillon.
Leiths School of food and wine
cookery course
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