Eliza Smith's Potted Salmon

For a seriously rich starter try Lotte Duncan's version of an eighteenth-century recipe for spiced potted salmon.
By Lotte Duncan
Eliza Smith's Potted Salmon
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 8-10
  • Cook Time:
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes plus 30 mins standing time
  • Effort: medium



  • 1 whole side of fillet of salmon, skin still on, but de-scaled
  • 1 nutmeg, freshly ground
  • 2 tsp ground cloves
  • 2 tsp ground mace
  • 2 tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 x 250g packet of unsalted butter
  • brown bread, uttered thin slices to serve

For the pastry:

  • 115 g plain flour
  • water, to mix


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas 4.

2. Check that all the bones have been removed from the salmon fillet, picking out any that you find.

3. Mix together the nutmeg, cloves, mace, white pepper and salt. Rub the spice mixture into the fleshy side of the salmon fillet.

4. Beat 250g of the butter with a wooden spoon. Spread half the softened butter in the bottom of a lidded earthenware pot, large enough to fit the salmon in snugly.

5. Coil up the salmon, skin-side out and place in the pot on top of the butter. Spread the remaining butter over the salmon and place the lid on top.

6. In a mixing bowl, mix the flour with enough water to form a stiff dough. Roll the dough into a sausage shape. Use the pastry 'sausage' to seal the pot all the way around the lid, pressing it firmly.

7. Bake the salmon, allowing 2 hours for a medium-sized fillet and 3 hours for a large one.

8. Remove the pot from the oven and set it aside to stand for 30 minutes.

9. Uncover the pot and gently tip to drain the juice and butter out of the pot into a bowl.

10. Skim the butter from the juice and place it in a saucepan. Add the remaining butter.

11. Clarify the butter by heating it very gently until it melts and separates, with the solids sinking to the bottom of the pan. Spoon off the clear yellow, clarified butter from the top of the pan.

12. Pour the clarified butter over the salmon until the fish is covered. Cover with greaseproof paper and set aside until serving.

13. Serve the potted salmon with buttered thin slices of brown bread.

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