Charcoal salmon with roast garlic, lemon and parsley pearl barley

Charcoal salmon with roast garlic, lemon and parsley pearl barley

British Seafood
David Loftus

This dish came about one day when I had some broken charcoal wafers in one hand and salmon belly trimmings in the other, which some claim to be the tastiest part of the fish. I don’t like wastage so I cured the salmon trimmings, coated them with the broken biscuits and deep-fried them. Paired with the flavours of garlic, lemon and parsley, the result was amazing.


Quantity Ingredient
4 salmon fillets
100g salt
100g caster sugar
1 lemon, finely zested
100g charcoal wafer cheese biscuits
100g plain flour
1 egg, beaten
oil, for deep-frying

Roast garlic, lemon and parsley pearl barley

Quantity Ingredient
1 garlic bulb
olive oil, for cooking
50g unsalted butter
2 shallots, peeled and chopped
150g pearl barley
100ml dry white wine
500ml Roast fish stock
or 500ml Vegetable stock
75g parmesan, grated
75g mascarpone
4 tablespoons parsley, finely chopped
1/2 lemon, in peeled segments
cornish sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

To finish

Quantity Ingredient
mustard cress, to garnish
olive oil, to drizzle
8 garlic cloves, unpeeled, for roasting (optional)


  1. Heat the oven to 200°C. Check the salmon for any pin bones.
  2. For the pearl barley, halve the garlic bulb widthways and place on a piece of foil. Sprinkle with salt and drizzle with olive oil. Seal the foil and place on a baking tray with the garlic cloves for the garnish if using. Roast for 45 minutes (20 minutes for the individual cloves), then set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, lay the salmon on a tray. Mix the salt, sugar and lemon zest together and sprinkle over the salmon. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. To cook the barley, heat a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the butter and a drizzle of olive oil. When bubbling, add the shallots and cook, without colouring, for 1 minute. Add the pearl barley to the pan and cook for 1 minute, stirring all the time. Next add the white wine and simmer until reduced right down, almost to nothing. Now add the stock and simmer until the barley is tender, but retains a slight bite. Set aside to cool.
  5. Wash the cure off the salmon and cut into slices, about 1 cm thick. Blitz the charcoal wafers in a food processor until finely ground. Put the flour, beaten egg and charcoal crumbs into 3 separate bowls. Pass the salmon through the flour and pat off the excess, then dip into the beaten egg and finally pass through the charcoal wafer crumbs to coat. Set aside on a plate.
  6. When ready to serve, heat the oil in a deep-fryer or other suitable deep, heavy pan to 180°C. Deep-fry the salmon in the hot oil, in batches if necessary, for 2 minutes until crispy. Remove and drain on kitchen paper, then sprinkle with salt; keep warm while cooking the rest.
  7. Meanwhile, return the pan of barley to a medium-low heat and warm through for 1 minute. Peel the roasted garlic bulb and stir through the barley with the Parmesan, mascarpone and parsley. Take off the heat, add the lemon segments and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Spoon the barley onto 4 warmed plates and top with the salmon. Finish with mustard cress, a trickle of olive oil and the roasted garlic cloves, if using.
British Seafood
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