16 June, 2007

ACofCB Part VIII: Jane Grigson's Fish Book

Only a few of my 60-something cookery books are really essential, and all of Jane Grigson's fall into that category. What a superb writer. Her books are accessible, comprehensive, diverse, beautifully written and so well-organised. In the case of the fish book I think I've used it more for the general sections than for specific recipes - it is invaluable. And so that is where I went to find out how best to poach my enormous salmon in my large and new fish kettle.

And the answer was simple and wonderful. Half-fill your fish kettle with brine (175 g or 6oz coarse sea salt to 2 litres or 4 1/2 pints of water), place salmon inside, add more brine if needed. Bring to boil - mine had to sit on the two back burners - allow to bubble once or twice. Turn off, leave to cool. This is if you want to serve it cold. You take the fish out once the water is comfortable to put your hand in, and test the back fin. You can leave it in until the water is cold, but usually the fish is overcooked by this time. It was delicious.

As Jane says "You can make a court bouillon if you like - wine, vinegar, vegetables, aromatics - but I now conclude that there is no point to it. A good salmon keeps more of its good flavour when cooked in brine."

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