Liquorice Poached Salmon With Asparagus

Liquorice poached salmon with asparagus

Serves 4

It's not always easy to see how Heston Blumenthal's creations can be simplified for the rest of us to prepare at home. But we had a go... This should deliver the Wow! factor to any dinner party.


  • 4 salmon fillet steaks
  • 100g (4 oz) Pontefract cakes
  • 20ml (4 tsp) agar-agar flakes (many supermarkets)
  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 pink grapefruit, peeled with individual cells removed 
  • Sea salt
  • Coriander seeds
  • 20g balsamic vinegar boiled to reduce by half and cooled
  • A little mayonnaise mixed with the seeds of a vanilla pod and a squeeze of lemon
  • Asparagus, trimmed and lightly steamed


  1. Place the liquorice in 500ml cold water in a saucepan and allow to sit overnight so the liquorice dissolves completely. The following day, bring the liquid to a simmer, whisk it well and then strain through a fine sieve.
  2. Pour 100g cold tap water into a small saucepan and sprinkle the agar-agar over it. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 4–5 minutes, whisking to ensure the agar dissolves. Add the liquorice stock, whisk to incorporate and simmer for another few minutes. Blitz with a hand blender for 1 minute, then remove from heat.
  3. Place a piece of clingfilm on a clean tray and pour the liquorice stock through a sieve on to the clingfilm, letting it spread naturally. Allow this to set (approximately 1 minute), then cut 4 pieces the same size and shape as the salmon steaks.
  4. Fry the salmon in the olive oil. This should take 6-8 minutes. Turn to seal at first then turn once more half way through.
  5. To serve: put each piece of salmon on a warm plate and top each with its blanket of liquorice. Top the salmon with three coriander seeds. Position grapefruit artfully. At the last moment, dot the plate with the reduced balsamic vinegar. Serve with mayonnaise and asparagus.