Clean and gut the salmon carefully; do not remove the head, tail or scales. Carefully measure the water and half fill the fish kettle, adding 1 rounded tablespoon of salt to every 40 fl ozs/2 Imperial pints. Cover the fish kettle and bring the water to the boil. Add the salmon or sea trout and allow the water to come back to the boil. Simmer for just 2 minutes and then turn off the heat. Keep the lid on and allow the fish to cool completely in the water (the fish should be just barely covered in the water).
When the fish is barely cold, remove from the fish kettle and drain for a few minutes. Line a large board or serving dish with fresh crisp lettuce leaves, top with sprigs of watercress, lemon balm and fennel and fennel flowers if available. Carefully slide the salmon onto the board. Just before serving, peel off the top skin, leave the tail and head intact. (We don’t scrape off the brown flesh in the centre because it tastes good.) Pipe a line of home-made Mayonnaise along the centre of the salmon lengthways, garnish with tiny sprigs of fennel and fennel flowers or very thin twists of cucumber. Put some segments of lemons around the dish between the lettuces and herbs. Resist the temptation to use any tomato or — horror of horrors — to put a slice of stuffed olive over the eye! The pale pink of the salmon flesh with the crisp lettuces and fresh herbs seems just perfect. Serve with a bowl of good home-made Mayonnaise.
© 1989 Darina Allen. All rights reserved.