Bill Granger recipes: Our chef scales new heights with his simple salmon dishes

Once it was an expensive luxury; now it's a weekly staple. But that's no reason to get into a rut when cooking with salmon, says Bill Granger
Click to follow
Indy Lifestyle Online

It wouldn't be exaggerating to say we eat salmon at home at least once a week. It's healthy, versatile and, as an oily fish, the richness is satisfying. To think it used to be a luxury; thank goodness for new farming methods that have made it affordable and sustainable. In fact, salmon is so popular these days that I often joke it's become the chicken breast of the fish world – one of those simple products you can always rely on.

Like all things eaten regularly, it's easy to get stuck in a rut. Just poaching it and serving it with steamed veg is a great weeknight meal, but salmon lends itself to so much more. All you need do is look at the countries that eat it on a daily basis to see the endless possibilities. Scandinavia immediately springs to mind…

Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 175 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, and 50 Sekforde Street, London EC1, tel: 020 7251 9032, grangerandco.com. Follow Bill on Instagram at bill.granger

Open gravlax sandwich with pickled cucumber and dill-mustard dressing

Years ago, a Swedish friend took me to Stockholm's inspirational indoor central market, Östermalms Saluhall, where we ate the most delicious gravlax on rye bread – one of life's best lunches.

My recipe here doesn't vary much from what I tasted that day. Yes, you could mix things up with a grating of orange zest or a couple of tablespoons of vodka, but why mess with something that's already perfect?

Serves 8-10

For the gravlax

3 tsp coriander seeds
2 tsp white peppercorns
2 tsp black peppercorns
3 tbsp sea salt
2 tbsp caster sugar
800g side of salmon, with skin
Large bunch dill, roughly chopped

For the cucumber

6 tbsp white-wine vinegar
3 tbsp caster sugar
1 star anise
1 tsp yellow mustard seeds
1 cucumber, finely sliced on a mandolin
1 small red onion, finely sliced on a mandolin

For the dressing

1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp white-wine vinegar
125ml light-flavoured oil
2 tbsp chopped dill

To serve

Pumpernickel bread

Start with the gravlax a couple of days in advance. Dry-toast the coriander and peppercorns in a pan over a medium heat until fragrant. Grind to a powder with a pestle and mortar. Stir in the salt and sugar. Put the salmon skin-side up in a wide, shallow dish.

Scatter evenly with a third of the spice mix. Press a third of the chopped dill on to the skin. Turn the fish over and scatter with the rest of the spice mix, then the rest of the dill. Cover tightly with cling film and weigh down with a baking tray and a couple of heavy tins. Put in the fridge for 2 to 3 days, turning every 12 hours or so.

Unwrap the fish and brush off the dill. Place the fillet, skin-side down, on a chopping board and, with a long sharp knife, carefully carve very thin, diagonal slivers of pink flesh off the salmon.

For the pickles, put the vinegar and sugar in a small pan with the anise and mustard seeds, and heat gently till the sugar dissolves. Cook for 1 minute, and set aside to cool slightly. Mix the red onion and cucumber in a bowl. Pour on the spiced vinegar. Leave to cool.

For the dressing, whisk the mustard, sugar, salt and vinegar until the sugar has dissolved, then whisk in the oil in a thin stream. Stir in the dill.

To serve, pile slices of salmon on top of slices of pumpernickel bread, top with the cucumber and a spoonful of the dressing.

Poached salmon and preserved-lemon potato salad with watercress mayo

The sharp preserved lemon and a peppery watercress mayo balance the salmon's richness well.

Serves 4

½ bunch spring onions, cut into thirds
1 lemon, halved
2 bay leaves
Bunch of flat-leaf parsley, stalks only (reserve leaves)
4 black peppercorns
4 x 120g salmon fillets

For the potato salad

1kg new potatoes
1 preserved lemon, skin only, finely chopped
2 tbsp white-wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed

For the mayo

Bunch watercress, roughly chopped
6 tbsp good-quality mayonnaise
6 tbsp crème fraîche
Juice ½ lemon

To serve

4 soft-boiled eggs
1 bunch mint, whole leaves
Whole leaves from the bunch of flat-leaf parsley

5733200.jpg
Poached salmon and soft-boiled eggs with a watercress mayo (Laura Edwards)

To poach the salmon, put the first 5 ingredients into a large pan, cover with 1 litre of cold water and 1 tbsp of salt, and bring slowly to the boil. Remove from heat, add the salmon fillets, cover the pan and allow to stand for 8 to 12 minutes; the residual heat will cook the fish. Lift the salmon out with a slotted spoon and set aside.

For the potato salad, cook the potatoes in a large pan of boiling salted water till just tender, drain then tip back into the pan, cover and allow to steam-dry for a few minutes. In a bowl, mix the preserved lemon, vinegar, oil and mustard with the shallot and garlic. Pour over the potatoes while they are still warm.

For the mayo, blend the watercress with the mayonnaise, crème fraîche and lemon juice.

Break the salmon into large flakes, toss through the potatoes and pile on to a platter with the soft-boiled eggs, and the mint and parsley scattered generously over. Serve with the mayo on the side.

Whole roast salmon with fennel, baby tomatoes and garlic-herb pangrattato

I usually pair the Mediterranean flavours of tomatoes and fennel with white fish, but after trying this combination the other day, I'm hooked – the salmon makes for a richer result, which suits the change in temperature perfectly.

Serves 6-8

1 tbsp fennel seeds
2 tsp dried chilli flakes
2 lemons, zested and sliced
1 tbsp sea salt
2kg salmon, gutted and cleaned
½ bunch parsley, chopped, stalks reserved
1 bulb fennel, sliced lengthways
2 red onions, sliced into rings
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
200g cherry tomatoes on the vine
200g cherry yellow tomatoes on the vine
3 thick slices sourdough, torn into small pieces
2 cloves garlic, crushed

5733204.jpg
Whole roast salmon with fennel, baby tomatoes and pangrattato (Laura Edwards)

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6. Grind the fennel seeds, chilli, zest and salt with a mortar and pestle then sprinkle the mix inside and over the salmon and place most of the lemon slices and the parsley stalks into the cavity. Lay the rest of the lemon slices on the base of a large baking tray, then put the salmon on top.

Arrange the fennel and onion in the tray then drizzle with 1 tbsp of oil and cook for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and add the tomatoes and an extra drizzle of oil, and cook for 15 minutes or until the fish is cooked through.

Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large pan, add the bread pieces and garlic and cook over a medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden. Remove and allow to cool before stirring through the parsley.

Serve the fish with the veggies, extra pan juices and crunchy crumbs scattered over the top.

Food styling: Rosie Reynolds; Props merchandising: Rachel Jukes

Comments