In the early ʼ80s, a dear friend from England who didn’t cook asked if she and her husband went to the St. Lawrence Market and got a whole salmon, would I prepare it for them. I was delighted she asked.

I can’t remember the occasion, but it turned out to be a great party. We were a group of mixed cultures and got to share various food offerings at functions. It was a wonderful food learning experience as each couple had a different nationality and prepared their native foods: Jamaican, Barbados and other Caribbean guests; Croatia, South African, Indian, German and English.

For that event, aside from preparing the whole poached salmon, I prepared my own St. Jacques Coquille on the half shell. It was a big job for feeding a large group but there was enough for each. Transporting is always a challenge.

Here is my own personal recipe for whole oven poached salmon in Winzertanz. This was about a 6-7 pound salmon.

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Poach the whole salmon, head and tail on. Ideally have the fishmonger descale it. Rinse in very cold water. Sprinkle the fish inside and out with salt and a little pepper.

Line the poaching pan with a large piece of cheesecloth, generously draping it over the sides.

In the perfect size poaching pan (you can use just a tinfoil turkey roasting pan in a pinch), I put the cleaned whole fish. I covered the fish completely with mild chicken broth (only use homemade) and added a bay leaf, a couple of stalks each of fresh carrots, celery, a quartered white Spanish onion, a sprig of dill, a couple of whole cloves and a few capers.

Add salt, fresh ground peppercorns, a pinch of thyme and two quartered lemons. Then the most important: four to six cups of Winzertanz depending on the size of the fish.

Place the poaching pan on a foil oven liner pan to catch any drips. Keep the oven clean. Cover the poaching pan with its lid, or close completely using foil, shiny side in. Poke a steam vent hole.

In a preheated oven at 350-375 F, position the fish midway top to bottom, side to side. Reduce heat immediately to 325 F. Keep the oven door closed. No peeking. Allow about 7-10 minutes per inch thickness. You want the salmon to be just done.

Using the cheesecloth as handles, remove the fish from the poaching liquid and place the hot fish on to a cheesecloth lined baking sheet with sides. Let it rest. When able to handle it, slip off the skin.

When the broth is cooled just slightly, pour it into a large stainless steel pot. Bring to a soft boil for a few minutes, then strain through cheesecloth in a sieve.

Clarify using egg shells so that you have a fish consommé. Add finely minced red bell pepper, minced green onion and just a pinch of crushed garlic.

Next:  Stir in gelatin packets as per product suggestion.

Pour the broth into a loaf pan to set. Then cut in cubes to surround the cooled fish on a decorated serving platter. Or pour gelatin broth into cold shot glasses, to act as a mould, and when just starting to set, add a party Popsicle stick.

An alternate for another day: make broth Popsicle stick moulds adding chopped (only) lobster claw meat. It’s a really special treat. The saved shells from seafood makes great broth in the same fashion.

For decorating the whole salmon, make firm tomato roses and lemon curls, and/or pretty mimosa half-stuffed eggs.

As a side, serve my multicolored cherry tomato salad.

My German potato salad and my incredible homemade dill bread finish the feast.

This is a great buffet treat for any special occasion.

Painted salmon

Here’s another suggestion. Visit your fishmonger and ask him to give you a fresh, never frozen salmon centre cut from behind the gills. Have him scrape the scales for you. He will likely have a boning knife that is razor sharp, much sharper than yours.

A super sharp knife does a much faster, easier and better scaling job. If you are scaling yourself, be absolutely certain to always position the knife so it is moving away from you.

Never buy salmon that is wrapped in a prepackaged plastic wrap on the fish counter at your grocery store. Believe it or not, it could have been re-packed, with a new best before date.

When you take your salmon home, refrigerate it immediately, keeping it in its paper wrapping. Don’t open the package until you are ready to prepare the salmon.

Rinse delicately in very cold water. Pat dry. Leave the skin on, but remove the skin when the salmon is cooked.

Spritz the salmon with Asbach or your favourite brandy.

Paint with a mixture of mustard and maple syrup, equal parts. Sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper. Drizzle with brandy fig jus from your marinating jar.

Toss a few capers into the package. Lay a whole paper thin slice of onion on top of the salmon skin and a slice of lemon. Position a sprig of dill on top. Close the package with a double roll seam.

Using two layers of parchment paper, make an en papillote (in parchment); overlap and fold a seam if the paper is not large enough. Poke a couple of tiny air holes in the package using the tip of a sharp knife.

Using a preheated, very hot barbecue grill, turn off all the burners. Position your en papillote on a metal barbecue grate sheet with holes. A flat barbecue vegetable grill pan will do.

Turn off the barbecue. Close the lid tight. Guesstimate timing: allow 5 minutes per inch of thickness.

Remove from heat and let it sit just briefly. Remember the fish will continue to steam in its package. Do not overcook. The salmon needs to be just done.

Leave the salmon in its en papillote, using a sharp knife to open the package. Be careful. The package is full of very hot steam. Position the en papillote on a bed of shredded lettuce, surrounded by lemon wedges.

Serve with my homemade potato salad, fresh asparagus and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

Homemade ice cream drizzled with an Asbach brandy reduced fig sauce is an ideal way to finish up this light delicious meal.

The working title for Carolyne’s Gourmet Recipes cookbook is From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks. This kitchen-friendly doyenne has been honoured and referred to as the grande dame of executive real estate in her market area during her 35-year career. She taught gourmet cooking in the mid-70s and wrote a weekly newspaper cooking column, long before gourmet was popular as it is today. Her ebook, Gourmet Cooking - at Home with Carolyne is available here for $5.99 US. Email Carolyne. Scroll down to the comments at each recipe column. Carolyne often adds complimentary "From Lady Ralston's Kitchen" additional recipes in the Recipes for Realtors Comments section at REM.


  1. “Christmas Salmon Sandwich”

    Toast your favourite multigrain sandwich bread. Butter generously with unsalted butter or use a Seafood Compound Butter Coin from your frozen log Reserve.

    Cover base slice with several crispy bacon rashers. Top with layers of delicious fresh lox or mounds of paper thin leaves of frozen Norwegian Smoked steelhead salmon. (Cranberry Mayo)

    Smear my homemade cranberry mayonnaise on the top bread slice. Add a mound of frisée lettuce. Close and cut the sandwich on the diagonal.

    A most delicious after the holiday season treat.

    If you have refrigerated mashed marinated in St-Germain Elderflower Medjool dates (they keep for months), spread the dates on the slice before the smear of cranberry mayonnaise. If you have homemade date syrup, drizzle it over the frisée.

    This delightful special sandwich can be served all year round. You could even use any leftovers from your whole poached salmon or your Painted Salmon.

    © Taste the Sea ~ Seafood from Lady Ralston’s Canadian Contessa Kitchen: Crustaceans, Fish ~ lobster, shrimp, crab, mussels, clams, oysters, scallops, salmon, sea salt and more… Fruits de Mer: Jewels of the Sea


    © Spirits in My Kitchen: Lady Ralston – Canadian Cooking with Bouquets and Aromas – Good Food Made Better Adding Spirits

    • “Jalapeño Dipping Oil Drizzle”

      If you enjoy heat, as in delicious jalapeño pepper heat, cut a three-inch thin green jalapeño into thin slices (wearing gloves and absolutely keep your hands away from your eyes!). Tip the jalapeño slices complete with seeds into a one-cup covered glass jar of original Mazola Corn Oil. Serve at room temperature. You could even add a few peppers slices to whatever you are eating.

      Let the oil sit. Lasts indefinitely but has a way of disappearing. Stir before each use. A tasty dipping oil for toasted, buttered with unsalted butter, artisan black-olive bread slices. Or, drizzle over any sandwich such as this or add to your favourite salad dressing.

      Drizzle the jalapeño oil over ready to eat fish, chicken, or pork. This produces a most delectable gentle yet hot heat. Just sliced pepper and oil. Nothing else added. ENJOY! It might be addictive? It leaves a sating coating in your mouth.

      © Lady Ralston’s Canadian Contessa Kitchen gets Saucy ~ Sauces, Aolies, Dressings, Drizzles, Drops, and Puddles

  2. It’s Summer ~ Celebrate with Salmon

    Since the forum is slow these days, you might have a moment to enjoy this Add-on…

    Salmon Rouladen

    Arrange with your fish monger to fillet a large whole raw salmon for you, into quite thin fillets, perhaps using a 6-7 lb salmon. Each fillet will be at least 7-10 inches long.

    Start by pan roasting bacon strips cut into 1/2″ pieces, until they are crispy. Remove the crispy bacon from the skillet. In the bacon fat, sweat a few tablespoons of finely chopped white Spanish onion until just translucent. Sprinkle with dried fresh thyme and fresh ground pepper. Deglaze the skillet with a quarter cup Asbach Uralt brandy. Scrape drippings into waiting bacon onion mix.

    Lay the raw salmon fillets out on your counter, on plastic wrap. Using a kitchen brush, paint each salmon filet on one side only, with mustard. Not quite to the edges. Sprinkle just a little salt and fresh grated pepper. Dot each fillet with a pat of your frozen log of compound herb butter.

    Place a tablespoon or two, whatever fits easily, of the onion bacon mix, onto each filet, near the end. Add a sprig of dill and grate a little lemon zest on each fillet. Drizzle just a little brandy fig marinating jus, or maple syrup. You can even add a mashed macerated fig.

    Sometimes you might like to add a raw shrimp or two, chopped or whole. And or a raw sea scallop. If scallop is large, cut in half, horizontally. But use both pieces.

    Very carefully, beginning at the narrow end, gently roll the salmon fillets, not too tight. Don’t worry about trying to close the ends. Tie, not too tight, with white food string to secure the roll. No string? Use skewers.

    Place each individual salmon roll onto a double parchment paper to make a papillote. Pierce a sharp knife point through each papillote to allow steam to escape.

    Grill on a hot, turned off BBQ. I like to use a large grill tray intended for vegetables. Close the lid.

    Timing will vary depending on size of the stuffed salmon fillets. Watch carefully; 10 to 12 minutes likely enough. The salmon rouladen will continue to cook in the paper package until you eat it. You don’t want to overcook the rouladen. Serve hot, warm, or room temperature.

    Try my rouladen recipe using frozen puff pastry instead of en papillote. Just cut a rectangular bed of frozen puff pastry, a little larger than the rouladen.

    Paint the outside 1/2″ edge of the uncooked pastry all around with egg wash, and sprinkle the inside with dry breadcrumbs to receive any moisture; position the salmon rouladen on the frozen pastry and bake in preheated hot oven, 375-400 degrees for maybe 15 minutes. Check at 12 minutes. Usually when the pastry puffs the fish is cooked. Careful not to overcook the salmon rouladen.

    Work quickly. Refrigerate before baking, briefly if necessary. The rouladen will cook and the pastry will puff up around it. Remove from oven and tent before prepping the plates. Serve with lemon curls and grate a bit of zest over top.

    Position on individual plates of hydroponic Boston Bibb lettuce. Drizzle just a tiny bit of Asbach Uralt brandy figgy marinating jus over the fish. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

    See my puff pastry tapas, also.

    “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks”


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