Salmon with watercress sauce and smoked onions

Salmon with watercress sauce and smoked onions

Fish Kitchen
David Loftus

This dish is great for entertaining because it’s all done in advance and everyone – or almost everyone – loves salmon. The smoky flavours are in the onions and dressing rather than the fish, which is a nice surprise when you eat it. If you don’t have a smoker, a steamer works well.


Quantity Ingredient
4 portions organic farmed or wild salmon fillet, skinned
3 white onions, peeled
light rapeseed oil, to drizzle
cornish sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
oak chips, for smoking

Watercress sauce

Quantity Ingredient
100ml light rapeseed oil
2 shallots, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 lime, finely zested and juiced
6 anchovies in oil, drained and chopped
2 tablespoons capers in wine vinegar, drained
300g watercress, picked
2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard

To serve

Quantity Ingredient
lime wedges


  1. Heat up your steamer (or a steamer basket large enough to hold the salmon over a pan of simmering water). Meanwhile, cut the onions into wedges and separate into petals. Place them in the steamer and steam for 20 minutes until cooked through but not falling apart. Remove from the steamer. Season the salmon all over and oil it well.
  2. Set up your smoker with the oak chips for hot smoking and heat up to get it smoking. Pour the 100 ml rapeseed oil for the sauce into a metal bowl. Add the steamed onions and bowl of oil to the smoker, keeping them separate. Smoke the onions and oil for 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, for the sauce, put the shallots, garlic, lime zest and juice, anchovies, capers and watercress onto a board and chop finely. Transfer to a bowl, add the mustard, mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until the oil is ready.
  4. Carefully place the salmon in the steamer and steam for 8 minutes or until cooked the way you like it. I like mine pink! Remove the oil and onions from the smoker. Let the oil cool slightly and then stir it into the watercress mixture and check the seasoning.
  5. When the fish is done, carefully transfer to warm plates and serve immediately with the watercress sauce, smoked onions and lime wedges on the side. This dish can also be served cold if you prefer.
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