Puff Pastry, How to Decorate a Salmon

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Today was a lot of fun, I played with a Puff Pastry Poached Salmon which will be used as a display for an event this evening. After finishing the last of three hundred bite quiche sized I spent a couple of hours shaping a head, tail and dorsal fin from puff pastry and then filled in the rest with thin sliced cucumber to replicate the scales. Here is what it looked like when I started.

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To begin with I thin sliced several cucumbers with a Japanese mandoline. (see Gallery below) Then I went to work on Mr. Fish. We poached him yesterday and put him in the walk-in to cool, the skin has been removed from all but the head, tail and dorsal fin. We wanted to cover up these areas with puff pastry. To get an outline of the head I laid a piece of paper over the head and traced the eyes, gills and mouth and then I was able to score the dough by laying the paper on the pastry. I then took my dough and put it over the head and fitted it, including the side fins and gills. For the Tail and Dorsal fin I took two pieces of dough and covered each side of them. Seaming them together and standing them up with a bamboo skewer. After carefully covering the exposed flesh with foil I put the fish back into the oven for 20 minutes to brown the pastry.

After the pastry had browned, the fish went back to the fridge to cool and I mixed up some aspic (Clear Gelatin). When it had cooled we transferred it to a draining rack so the aspic would run off as I added the cucumbers to form the scales. Now beginning at the back of the fish I started adding rows of thin sliced cucumber. I dipped each slice into aspic as I stuck it to the side spaced about 1/2 an inch apart, adding the next row in a close overlap. The aspic helped the cucumber to stick to the sides even though gravity threatened to make them slide off. When I finished adding scales all the way to the front, I went back and repainted the fish with several more coats of aspic to make sure that the scales stay in place and to seal it up so that it will hold for several hours at room temperature.

When the fish arrives at the party it will be transferred one more time to it’s final show place. The picture above is a large pewter platter with about an inch of clear aspic and some flower petals and parsley leaves suspended in it. The fish will be placed on top of this giving the impression that it has just swum into shallow water. I await that picture on my cell phone any minute now and will post it as soon as it arrives.

Finished Salmon in Puff Pastry

Finished Salmon in Puff Pastry

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The plan is that it will not be eaten but simply be decoration for the buffet. That is my day with Puff Pastry and how to decorate a salmon.  Puff pastry is really easy to work with in this instance I doubled the thickness using two sheets glued together with a coating of egg wash. Small cuts in the pastry will expand as it bakes so you can use this to advantage. I made small slits in the dorsal fin and tail and when it baked these slits appeared similar to his actual fins. Mr. Fish will join Miss Piggy and a Turkey as decorations for this event.

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