Wild Salmon Fillets in a Whisky and Cream Sauce

I’m reminded that it will soon be time to renew my fishing license.

A fishing story: Wild Salmon fillets in a whisky and cream sauce

It’s late in the afternoon and the light is starting to fade. The cloud is now hanging low and grey. Rain is in the air. The river continues to flow its powerful, steady course mid-way between the mountains and the Loch. The double-handed fishing rod is now starting to feel heavy in my hands as I roll out yet another fruitless cast across the water. Donald, the gillie, takes a small swig from his flask.

“Di nay . People wait years for a fish. Ah went three year wi’oot a bite
some years back.”

This is not helping my morale.

“They dinna eat on tha spawn ye knows. It’s a mystery why they take the fly”

I already know this. But the reality is that I still don’t have a fish. The Scottish air is getting colder and sharper. The toes in my waders are feeling numb and the light is fading faster. Time for one last cast. Donald takes off his cap and detaches his Hairy Mary. The one his father used and, who knows, maybe his grand father too. He quickly and expertly attaches the fly to the leader. This time I retreat to nearer the bank and cast upstream allowing the fly to flow down with the river. As the fly approaches the pool I start giving short measured tugs to the fly. In an instant, I see a silver flash and hear a splash. The fish has taken the fly. Twenty minutes later the fish is in the net and we stagger on to the bank in triumphant elation and a celebratory swig.

The light is disappearing fast. It’s raining. We phone ahead to the castle and give the staff the night off and head for the nearby fishing lodge. At the lodge we light the fire in the grate, put the fine beast on the kitchen table and take stock of our situation.

The options are limited as the kitchen (in reality, just a small cooking area) is small and basic. My preferred option of poaching is not a possibility. However, we still have some basic vegetables left over from lunch, bread, butter, some double cream and of course, being Scotland, plenty of whisky. Donald collects some fresh wild thyme from near the door and fires up the range. Meanwhile, I prepare a couple of fillets from the fish. This is what we did:

1. Pan fry the fillets (skin on) in a little butter.
2. Flambe in a little scotch whisky. We used Talisker. The smokey, peaty taste of the Isla malts is perfect for this.

3. Remove the fillets to a warm plate.
4. Finish the sauce with more butter, cream, lemon juice and the thyme.

5. Serve.

The flavors of the sauce are quite strong, so this works best with wild salmon.

The sharp-eyed will notice the pics have parsley, not thyme. The pics came later. Personally, I think it works better with parsley.


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