Simple to both prepare and cook, these little beauties only haven't appeared on Rhubarb & Ginger before because of the horrendous price of fresh salmon. So what's changed? Not the price of salmon, but the discovery of an affordable pack of frozen salmon pieces in our local supermarket.
I was so worried that the fish would let the dish down. Frozen fish, in my experience, is generally pappy, wet and disgusting. The salmon fillet pieces looked reasonable enough when they were frozen - and once defrosted, still looked reasonable except for being somewhat waterlogged. To combat this, I took two pieces of kitchen paper (which has come in so useful for all kinds of uses, this weekend) per piece of fish and pressed each between them. This effectively squeezed the excess water from the fish (and probably some of the flavour, but it had to be done). I was left with pieces that were a good shape and no longer waterlogged.
If you can afford to use fresh salmon for this recipe - by all means do. It can only improve what is already a fabulous dish.
The original recipe (from my favourite, BBC Good Food) states to use four leeks for two parcels - which seems to be a ridiculous amount of leek. In this instance, I used three leeks for three parcels - and again, wound up with too much leek! I know it all depends upon the size of your leeks, which is why I don't specify a quantity - you just have to be sensible when deciding how much leek you want!
Another sneaky tip is that once you've cooked your leeks, if you're in a bit of a hurry to have them cool down, fill the sink to just a couple of inches and put the pan into the cold water - making sure the pan won't tip over. Give the leeks a couple of stirs over the course of the next 5-10 minutes and you'll find they're cool enough to mix the creme fraiche into and proceed with making the parcels.
I've used both a mixture of creme fraiche and cream cheese, plus solely creme fraiche, in making the creamed leeks and haven't found a great deal of difference in both mixtures. One thing I will stress though, is not to use low fat. The mixture needs the richness.
Do give these a go - they'd be perfect for after the Christmas indulgences!
Having just made them again, I was struck by how simple the recipe is and how absolutely brilliantly it works. I'm still using the frozen salmon and it's still working perfectly.
The recipe is an absolute doddle to prepare and it cooks while your veggies are chuckling on the stove top. Once again, I served them with veggies and a parsley sauce. The sauce goes so well with the salmon and leeks, I think it is pretty much an integral part of the recipe unless you're serving with salad.
I also remembered to take a photograph of the cut parcel, so that you could see what is going on inside.
SALMON & LEEK FILO PARCELS (serves 3)
Sufficient leek (2 large or 3 small) for three parcels, sliced finely
120g creme fraiche or cream cheese
6 sheets filo pastry
3 skinless salmon fillets.
1. Pre-heat oven to 180deg C/350deg F/Gas 4.
2. Put the leeks, together with the butter and 3 tbsp of water into a saucepan and cover. Cook on a medium to low heat for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the leeks are softened and tender. Season to taste and set aside to cool.
3. Once cool, mix with the creme fraiche (or cream cheese).
4. Next, take two sheets of filo pastry and brush each with olive oil (or melted butter, if you prefer). Place a piece of salmon into the middle of the sheet, season lightly and spoon a third of the leeks on top.
5. Fold up the sides of the pastry and scrunch the gathered top to form a "moneybag" shape. This will give some lovely crisp flakes of pastry, that give a welcome crunch to the meal.
6. Brush each parcel with oil (or butter) and place into the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes.