Saturday, 5 June 2010

The best salmon sandwiches

When I was a teenager I used to work at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire. I wore a maid’s outfit and served ice creams in one of the kiosks, and I also helped out in the restaurant. A woman once stopped me and told me I had ‘the most Victorian eyebrows’, and it has been a theme throughout my life that people feel free to tell me whatever they think of my appearance whenever and wherever the fancy takes them. Sometimes the things they say are flattering, sometimes they are not. Normally they are equivocal at best. With blood relatives and medical professionals it is an absolute free for all, as they can poke me for emphasis. I don’t know why it is, as you wouldn’t look at me in the normal course of things and think, she looks like she can have no possible anxieties about her appearance, I shall go and tell her what I think about her feet. Perhaps I will start doing the same and will stop people in the street and say, gosh what an amazing beard, do you brush it. It would no doubt be very freeing. Anyway, the two things I loved about Chatsworth (the thing I didn’t love was the hereditary privilege, natch) were the beautiful fluffy-footed chickens that the Duchess kept and which roamed about the grounds, and the poached salmon sandwiches in the kiosk which we weren’t supposed to eat for lunch but did. This remains one of my favourite things to do with leftover salmon. I am not sure it is very thrifty to have leftover salmon to start with, but, if you do have leftover salmon, this is a much better thing to do with it than throw it away.

This isn’t really a recipe, it’s a ‘best way to do the salmon sandwich from experience’ type thing.

I cook the salmon (or trout) like this: I put 2 steaks or fillets in foil, with olive oil, tarragon (dried is ok) and bay leaves (about 2 leaves per steak.) I would put a splash of white wine in as well if I could prise the bottle away from my partner. Cook the steaks/ fillets only for long enough that they are no longer opaque: I did mine last night at 160 degrees C for about 15 minutes and they definitely didn’t need any longer. Take them out before they’re ready, if necessary, and let them finish cooking in the foil. Save about half-2/3 of a steak for each sandwich. Then the next day (having put the leftovers carefully in the fridge overnight, i.e. you eat some for dinner) make the sandwich with: 2 thick slices granary bread (this has to be homemade), mayonnaise spread thinly on each slice (this ought to be homemade as well, I’m sorry to be prescriptive. I do use Hellmann's as well, though, and it’s fine so long as you’ve got decent bread), the salmon/ trout, flaked with a fork, watercress, and salt. Then cut into quarters and eat.

I don’t know if this is my favourite sandwich, but it’s probably up there in the top five. What’s yours?