Alexander Dumas includes a sketch of this recipe in his wonderful Dictionary of Cuisine. He was, as we repeatedly note, no xenophobe when it came to food, and his recipes range not only over all of France, but also to the British Isles. He gives Ireland credit for this one, although we have not found a similar preparation in any Irish source. Stay tuned; meanwhile, four servings.
For the oyster stuffing:
- ¼ lb breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup chopped fresh herbs--whatever you like
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 ½ teaspoons lemon zest
- 1 oz cup suet
- 1 Tablespoon soft unsalted butter
- a beaten egg
- about 1-1½ cups shucked and chopped oysters (previously shucked oysters from plastic cans will work but freshly shucked ones are considerably better for this recipe)
For the salmon:
-a skinless salmon fillet weighing about 2 lb
-salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°.
- Make the oyster stuffing by combining all of its ingredients except for the oysters. Once everything else is thoroughly mixed together, gently fold the oysters into the stuffing.
- Spread the stuffing evenly over the fish and roll it up just like a jelly roll.
- Paint the surface of the fish with a little melted butter, then season it generously with salt and pepper.
- Put the rolled fish seam-side down in a shallow baking dish and roast it just until the salmon loses its opacity, usually in about 30-35 minutes.
- Cut the salmon into four discs with the sharpest knife you own and serve it, like Dumas, with the pan juices.
- It would be most traditional, in either England or New England at least, to serve the stuffed salmon with buttered new potatoes and little peas.
- You should not need to secure the rolled salmon but if you worry that it is going to unravel go ahead and imprison it with some butchers’ string.
- Here is Dumas’ original ‘recipe,’ translated by Louis Colman in 1958:
“Bone and blanch half a salmon. Sprinkle the inner surface with a mixture of pepper, salt, nutmeg, chopped oysters, parsley and bread crumbs. Roll it up. Put into a shallow baking dish and bake in a hot oven. Serve in its own juice.”
- It is of course an excellent if general concept, although blanching the salmon before roasting is not only unnecessary but detrimental and we do prefer this variation on our own recipe for oyster dressing to stuff the fish.
- If, however, you prefer Dumas’ simpler stuffing, go ahead and make it. Just omit our other ingredients, substitute his nutmeg for the mace and use our same proportions.