Simple and delicious, this summery favourite makes a great starter or light lunch, plus it's portable, so perfect for a picnic. Salmon fillets, cooked until flaky and seasoned with nutmeg, cayenne pepper and Worcestershire sauce, popped into a handy jar and topped with homemade clarified butter. Master this easy picnic recipe, which is delicious spread on toast, in just six simple steps.
- Start by sterilising 6 x 200ml (7oz) heatproof jars – Kilner jars or jam jars with a resealable lid work well. Wash them in the sink with hot, soapy water and rinse clean. Dry in the oven for 1 hour at gas 1, 140°C, fan 120°C. Set aside. Once cooled, grease each jar with butter.
- Heat the oil in a large pan over a high heat. Add the fish, skin-side down. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Cover the pan and cook for a further minute. Turn off the heat, but leave the fish in the pan for 5 minutes (it will continue cooking).
- Melt the butter in a small pan over a low heat. Once melted, continue heating for about 8 minutes, until it turns slightly darker in colour and the white milk solids rise to the surface.
- Meanwhile, peel and discard the salmon skin. Scatter the nutmeg, cayenne pepper, Worcestershire sauce and seasoning over the fish, then flake with a fork. Discard any stray bones.
- Pour the butter into a jug through a muslin-lined sieve to catch the milk solids – this is called clarifying. Pour half the butter over the flaked salmon and return to a low heat. Warm through for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Divide the fish between the jars, then pour over the remaining clarified butter to seal. Chill for at least 4 hours, or for up to 3 days. To serve, scatter each pot with a pinch of cayenne pepper and enjoy with sliced lemon and toast, if you like.
Trout and fennel seeds: Use skin-on trout fillets in place of salmon, cooking as instructed in step 2. Omit the nutmeg and cayenne pepper in step 4 and use 1 tsp crushed fennel seeds and 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill in their place. Pot up and garnish with a few sprigs of dill.
Crab and tarragon: Swap the salmon for 625g (1 1/4lb) cooked crab, skipping step 2 and the first part of step 4. Replace the nutmeg and cayenne pepper in step 4 with 1 tbsp each chopped tarragon and lemon zest.
Smoked mackerel and horseradish: Replace the salmon with 625g (1 1/4lb) smoked mackerel fillets and miss out step 2. Swap the nutmeg for 2 tsp creamed horseradish.
If you don’t have any muslin to hand when clarifying the butter, use a brand new dishcloth or paper coffee filter.
To give the clarified butter a pronounced citrus flavour, top it with a whole slice of lemon before chilling.
Serve the potted salmon at room temperature. This allows the delicate flavours to develop and the butter to soften.
If you’re experimenting with different spins (see ideas above), smoked fish works well and doesn’t need cooking first. Lean, white fish, such as cod or haddock, should be avoided as these can dry out when potted.
Quick-pickled cucumber is a great side for rich potted fish. Simply toss half a sliced cucumber with 2 tbsp of rice wine vinegar, a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Leave to marinate for 5 minutes before draining.
Freezing and defrosting guidelines
Cook as instructed and allow to cool completely. Then transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe container, seal and freeze for up to 1-3 months. To serve, defrost thoroughly in the fridge overnight.
See more Salmon recipes