Looking through a very old cordon bleu cookbook I have on my shelf, I came across some interesting tidbit about salmon and thought it might be appropriate for this time of year. So, as they say, on with the show:
From "Penguin Cordon Blue Cookery" by Rosemary Hume and Muriel Downes
SALMON: A pink-fleshed, oily fish with superb firm flesh, covered with bright silvery scales, and when very fresh there is a thick buttery curd between the flakes. The flesh is rich and very satisfying and it is sufficient to allow 4oz. per head when catering, although when buying a whole fish, it must be remembered that the head is about one fifth of its length and weight, so choose, where possible, fish with small head and tail and broad shoulders. (I love the way they put that...broad shouldered fish)
Salmon can be cooked in various ways. For a very large function or for the cold table in hotels and restaurants the fish is cooked whole; for smaller parties in a private house it is more usual to choose a thick piece cut from the middle of the fish, weighing anything from 1 1/2 to 3 lb. Cutlets or steaks of salmon 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches thick are suitable for individual portions and grilling.
When the fish is cooked whole it is not necessary to remove the scales, indeed it is better to leave them on as they give protection to the delicate skin, making it easier to remove before serving. To poach salmon it must be covered in liquid and so for a whole fish, a fish kettle with a drainer is essential. However, it is possible to cook a thick steak in the oven, but it must be basted frequently with the cooking liquid.
Whole fish over 5 lb: 8 mins. per lb.
Whole fish under 5 lb. and large steaks: 10 mins. per lb.
Whole fish under 2 lb: 15-20 mins. per lb.
Steaks and cutlets, depending on thickness: 12-15 mins.
Thick steaks or large pieces of salmon can also be steamed. They should be prepared, seasoned lightly, wrapped in buttered foil or parchment paper; allow 20 minutes to the pound and leave to cool without unwrapping. This is an excellent method of preparing salmon for the deep freeze.