50g soft herbs (finely chopped parsley, chives, dill, chervil, tarragon or what ever you have to hand)
50g shallots (finely diced)
15g parmesan (grated)
1 clove garlic
light olive oil
5tblsp dijon mustard
4 fillets of salmon (5-6 oz) (all centre cut, nice and thick evenly-sized, skinned, and fat removed)
500g (to 600) mashing potatoes (peeled and chopped into chunks)
1 vanilla pod (split, beans scraped out and all infused in 100-150ml milk, 50ml cream & 50-80g butter for 10 minutes at a simmer)
4 (to 6) spring onions (cut very finely on the bias)
a little fresh ground white pepper and generous amounts of fresh ground black pepper
200ml golden chicken stock
6 (to 8) cardamom pods (cracked and infused in 100ml of cream for 10 minutes with 1 tsp beurre manie)
50g (to 100) unsalted butter (cubed)
white pepper and salt as required
Crust Method: In a sauté or small frying pan, heat a little olive oil add the shallots and sweat off for 3 minutes, until they become translucent. Add the breadcrumbs and a little more olive oil so moist but not wet. Cook gently for 2 minutes, then take off the heat and put in a bowl.
Allow to cool, then add parmesan, black pepper and the mixed, fresh herbs. Mix to combine all the flavours, check the seasoning. NB: The texture of the crust mix should be so as all the ingredients hold together nicely.
Place fish skin side up season with a little salt and pepper then brush with a little Dijon mustard and season.
Gently apply the crust mix to each fillet, so it’s about 6mm thick. Pressing gently, tidy up so all the edges are even, tidy and tight with a palette knife.
Place a sheet of grease-proof paper on a flat baking tray and brush with a little olive oil, then season the paper with sea salt and black pepper
Place the fish fillets so they’re spaced evenly on the grease-proof then pop into the fridge for later and to allow the crust to firm up.
Chef's tip: Any leftover herb crust can be frozen or you could use it on split baked potatoes, cheese on toast, roast mushrooms.
When ready, bake the fish fillets for 8mins at 200°C, so the crust is just golden and the fish moist. Allow to rest for 2 mins.
Champ Method: Boil the potatoes in salted water. When cooked, drain well then dry out in oven or on top of your stove to remove excess moisture.
Bring the milk, butter and cream back to a simmer with the split vanilla pod still in. Meanwhile, mash the potato through a moulis, potato press or using your ‘handy masher’, working quickly and making sure the potato is kept as hot as possible. The heat is the secret to a perfect, creamy mash.
When adding the infused hot cream to the potato you should slowly incorporate them, so as to end up with an unctuous, thick mash. Then, with a big spoon or a large whisk, add generous amount of the peppers - check the seasoning, then add the finely sliced spring onion, trying not to allow the champ to cool.
Sauce Method: In a thick bottomed pan, reduce the chicken stock by half, then add the strained infused cream and bring to a simmer.
Add cold knobs of butter and bring to a brisk boil, whisking as it bubbles so it will thicken.
Check the seasoning, crack a little more fresh cardamom in the sauce and serve drizzled around the fish fillet.