Chef Michael Smith of Three Chimneys uses peat-smoked salmon in this recipe served at his restaurant. Peat comes from the soil and it is cut into bricks, which was one way that people used to heat up their houses. As it burns, it releases a sweet, earthy smell that is transferred to the salmon. Chef prefers peat to wood chips because this way the recipe comes full circle: it connects the salmon from the sea with the peat from the earth.
Put the salmon fillet, water, wine, lemon slices, onion slices, bay leaves, parsley sprigs, fennel sprig, white peppercorns, and sea salt in a metal dish or saucepan deep enough to take the piece of salmon fillet. The liquid should reach at least halfway up the container, almost covering the fish. Place on low heat and allow the liquid to come to a simmer, cover with a lid or piece of close-fitting foil, and cook over low heat for 3 minutes or more, depending upon the thickness of the fillet. Then turn off the heat, leave the lid or foil in place and leave to get cool. The fish should be cooked through by the time it is cool enough to handle.
Remove the piece of fish, place on one side and strain the cooking liquid through a sieve, over a bowl. Discard the ingredients trapped in the sieve and pour the poaching liquor into a measuring jug. You will need about 2 ½ cups to cook the rice. If the poaching liquid is a little short on quantity, make it up to the correct amount with some cold water.
Melt the butter in a medium-sized, thick-bottomed saucepan. Choose one that has a well-fitting lid. Soften the chopped onion in the butter and allow this to cook for a few minutes. Add the rice, stir the softened onion through it, add the grated lemon zest and a good pinch of Maldon sea salt. Stir well, until the rice is coated and pour in the poaching liquid. Bring to a boil and immediately cover with the close-fitting lid, or a layer of foil plus the lid, turn the heat down to very low for exactly 15 minutes and then turn the heat off, but do not remove the lid from the rice for at least a further 10 minutes. Don’t cheat and be tempted to look before 10 minutes is up!
While the rice is cooking, remove the skin and any bones from the salmon, and flake it into a large mixing bowl. Add the finely chopped hard-boiled eggs, the chopped spring onions, the flaked hot-smoked salmon and the peat-smoked salmon sliced into small pieces, if using.*
Once the rice is cooked, add it to the salmon mixture. Fold ingredients together well. It is easiest to do this with a large metal spoon. Just before serving, stir in the chopped fresh herbs and check the seasoning, adding a little more salt (remember the smoked fish will add saltiness to the finished dish) and freshly ground white pepper.
The whole dish can be cooled completely and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator at this stage.
To serve, add a small knob of butter and a tablespoonful of double cream per person and reheat slowly and thoroughly over a low heat. Alternatively, this dish reheats in a microwave very successfully. Serve piping hot with a wedge of lemon.