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Baked Salmon With Spices

Fish makes an excellent alternative to the traditional meats at Christmas, particularly if you cook it in an interesting way. A whole baked salmon looks particularly impressive and is very easy to prepare. Serve it with the spicy hollandaise sauce.

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60 g (2 oz) butter
1-1.5 kg (2-3 lb) whole salmon, cleaned
150 ml ( pint) white wine
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons mustard seeds
2 teaspoons fennel seeds
Sliced limes, fresh coriander and bay leaves, to garnish


Serves: 6


1 Preheat oven to 150˚C (300˚F/ Gas 2). Melt the butter. Spread a double thickness of foil, large enough to wrap the salmon, with some of the melted butter.

2 Lay salmon on foil then loosely bring up sides of foil to make a container. Pour the wine and a little salt over salmon. Secure foil together so that parcel is tightly sealed but leaves space around the salmon. Place on a large baking sheet and cook for 1-1¼ hours until tender. To test if salmon is cooked, push a knife into thickest part of flesh near the backbone. The flesh in the centre should have turned opaque. If necessary, re-wrap and cook for a little longer.

3 Meanwhile, grind the peppercorns, coriander, mustard and fennel seeds in a coffee grinder or pestle and mortar until fairly fine.

4 Remove salmon from oven and fold back foil. Raise oven temperature to 200˚C (400˚F/Gas 6). Carefully transfer salmon to a chopping board. Using a sharp knife, cut through skin around head and tail, and down back of fish. Carefully peel away skin and any dark brown flesh.

5 Brush pink flesh with melted butter and coat with half the spice mixture.

6 Carefully turn fish over and skin other side. Brush with remaining butter and coat with remaining spice mixture. Turn fish back to original side and place on a clean piece of buttered foil.

7 Bake for a further 5 minutes then transfer to a warmed serving dish. Surround with plenty of sliced limes, coriander and bay leaves and serve hot.

COOK'S TIP:- This is the easiest way to cook a small salmon as it requires no specialist equipment, although a fish kettle can be used if you have one. Half fill it with water, adding a little white wine, salt and pepper. Bring to simmering point then lower the salmon, on the rack, into the water. Return to a gentle simmer and cook for 5 minutes per 500 g (1 lb). Leave to drain for 5 minutes then continue from step 4.

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