This salmon fillet with colcannon recipe has been a favourite of ours since we first tasted the dish at restaurant Banc in Sydney. The crispy skinned salmon fillet was cooked to perfection, the colcannon (an Irish mash potato) was creamy and rich, and while the red wine sauce seemed an unusual choice, its acidity worked well with a mouthful of the other ingredients.
Irish chef Liam Tomlin’s classic French menu at Banc restaurant in Sydney had little twists and turns, but was not immensely innovative compared to today’s contemporary Australian restaurants. However, Tomlin’s use of fantastic ingredients, point perfect cooking and seasoning and consistency made it the fine diner of that era, from 1997 until well after the Sydney 2000 Olympics. Even to this day, I remember eating the beef Rossini there and it’s still the best I’ve ever tried.
That beef Rossini and the salmon dish were the reason that I walked out of the restaurant after our first meal there clutching the restaurant’s cookbook, Banc, published in 2000.
Both the restaurant and the book have passed into folklore. I’ve seen that book on the shelves of some of the best chefs in the world. I’ve traded stories with chefs about trying recipes from the book, enthusing over how detailed they are. I’ve read countless stories about how hard chef Tomlin was on his crew, however, many went on to become some of Australia’s and some of the world’s best chefs.
Salmon Fillet with Colcannon Recipe
These days, my copy of Banc is in storage in Sydney, however, I don’t need it for this salmon fillet with colcannon recipe as I’ve made it an alarming number of times for dinner parties, tweaking it a little here and there over time.
One of the things I like about this salmon fillet with colcannon recipe is that you can prep everything beforehand and disappear into the kitchen for only 10 minutes to finish it if you’ve done your mis en place properly. Reheat the mash and add some butter to the sauce while you cook the salmon. So simple.
Another point in this recipe’s favour is that it can be adapted for pescatarians without deeply affecting the flavour profile of the dish. At a dinner party where two guests didn’t eat fish but wanted red meat, I’ve mated the colcannon and red wine sauce with a couple of cuts of decent sirloin. It’s brilliant.
Some Recipe Notes for this Salmon Fillet with Colcannon Recipe
If you loved my creamy mashed potatoes recipe, you’re going to adore this colcannon recipe. If you’re not familiar with colcannon, it’s a classic Irish mashed potato dish with kale (or cabbage) and spring onions, and can entertain other ingredients, such as bacon or pancetta. Tomlin’s version has pancetta and small grilled prawns mixed in with savoy cabbage and spring onions. I can remember in the restaurant version Tomlin topped the salmon with slices of crispy pancetta as well.
I’ve also made this colcannon with cooked fresh chorizo and the latest time I made it I added chorizo to the red wine sauce. Both are delicious. While I’m pretty sure Tomlin’s version of the red wine sauce had mushrooms in it, I don’t think they fit with the flavour profile of the dish. My go-to red wine sauce is a basic shallot and red wine sauce with added pieces of cooked fresh chorizo. You can skip this addition if you like.
You’ll also notice in the photograph above that there is Chinese cabbage on the side with a sauce. Just to get even more elaborate, and considering the ingredients used in the dish, I’ve added a brilliant side dish, Automata’s roasted red cabbage with bonito butter, but with the same Chinese cabbage that I used in the colcannon.
Chef Clayton Wells’ recipe for cabbage is one of my favourite side dishes. It’s umami heaven and it’s one of the reasons that Clayton Wells became one of our favourite Sydney chefs after just one meal at his restaurant. Make it a priority to eat at Automata if you haven’t yet.
Cooking Salmon Fillets and How to Get a Perfect Crispy Fish Skin
I don’t know why people get nervous cooking salmon, it’s one of the simplest fish to cook. The most difficult part is carefully scoring the skin. Tip: use your sharpest knife.
The pan should be just over medium heat and the olive oil nearly at smoking point where you see it shimmer. The salmon should be at room temperature before you put it in the pan. Once you lay the salmon fillet in the pan do not move it. Leave it alone.
The cooking time depends on the thickness of the fillet, but luckily salmon comes with its own temperature gauge! Looking at the fillet from side on, as the fillet cooks the cooked portion becomes white. When it’s about halfway up the fillet, turn it over with a fish slice and cook it for another 30 seconds, then rest the fillet.
Some chefs, like Gordon Ramsay, will turn the fillet over so it’s skin side down and baste with butter and herbs. If there are a lot of other flavours in the dish, such as the one we’re making, that’s not really necessary.
And chef Liam Tomlin? From Australia he moved to South Africa, where he opened the more modest and more casual Chef’s Warehouse and now appears to have a handful of restaurants. I’m looking forward to the day I can eat his wonderful food again.
Salmon Fillet with Colcannon Recipe and a Recipe for Red Wine Sauce
In addition to the salmon fillet with colcannon recipe, I’ve included a recipe for red wine sauce, below, as well.
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 160 gr salmon fillets, skin on and scored as described above.
- colcannon (recipe below)
- red wine sauce (recipe below)
- With the salmon fillets at room temperature season the skin with salt and pepper. Drizzle with a little olive oil.
- Heat a non-stick pan to medium high and add the olive oil.
- When the oil is shimmering add the salmon fillets, laying them away from you. Using a fish slice put pressure on the top of the fillets to ensure that the skin has good contact with the pan.
- When the salmon is cooked halfway through (looking at the fillet) from side on, flip the fillets so they’re flesh side down. Cook for 30 seconds and remove the fish from the pan and rest in a warm tray skin-side up.
- As the fish rests, warm your serving plates and reheat the colcannon and the red wine sauce. Go gentle with both, you do not want burnt colcannon or red wine sauce. Add the butter to the sauce and mix through.
- Place a scoop of colcannon on the plate, place the salmon fillet on top and drizzle the sauce over and around the fillet.
- 4 slices of pancetta
- 250 gr classic mashed potato (see the potato mash recipe here)
- 100 gr savoy cabbage, Chinese cabbage or kale, sliced thinly
- 30 gr spring onion, finely sliced
- 1 handfull julienned parsley
- Salt and pepper
- You can cook the pancetta by placing pancetta onto an oven tray and roast over medium heat until crispy or cook it in a non-stick pan over medium heat until crispy.
- Place on kitchen wipes in a roasting tray to absorb excess oil. When cool enough to touch, break up the pancetta into small pieces.
- In a non-stick pan over medium heat, add a tablespoon of butter and olive oil and then as it foams add the cabbage or kale and stir until wilted. Add a little seasoning and remove from heat.
- Over low heat, start stirring the mash and add the cabbage, then the pancetta and half of the spring onions and parsley.
- Add extra butter and seasoning as needed and remove from heat, keeping the colcannon in a warm place in the kitchen.
- 50 grams shallots sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 garlic clove lightly crushed
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 200 ml full-bodied red wine
- 200 ml beef or brown chicken stock
- 1 big knob of butter
- Sauté the shallots in a medium-sized saucepan on high until lightly browned, stirring often to stop the shallots from burning. Season with ground black pepper and add the garlic and rosemary. Continue cooking for a further 3 mins, stirring often.
- Add the vinegar and cook over medium heat until the sauce has a syrupy texture. Add the wine and cook until reduced by two thirds.
- Pour in the stock and bring to the sauce up to the boil. Turn down the heat and simmer until reduced by two-thirds again, to around 125ml.
- Strain the sauce through a fine sieve and return to a medium-sized saucepan. Place the sauce in a warm place in the kitchen and have your butter ready to ‘monte' (whisk) this into the final sauce.