Liam Finnegan

Liam Finnegan has been head chef at The Castle Hotel in Taunton since 2012 and heads up the hotel’s newly refurbished Brazz brasserie. He grew up in Carlingford, Co Louth in Ireland, and still sources the famous oysters from his home for The Castle’s menu. However, whenever possible, he uses local suppliers. Liam follows in the footsteps of some famous faces who have been head chefs at The Castle including Gary Rhodes and Phil Vickery.

Liam has extensive experience in working in top restaurants with highly regarded chefs. Liam’s career path took him through some prestigious restaurants, with great mentors, such as The George Hotel on the Isle of Wight, The Bath Priory and Gidleigh Park, in Devon, where he worked for Michael Caines – holder of two Michelin stars, as well as The Nuremore Hotel  where he worked with Ray McArdle.

Raymond knew he wanted to be a chef from a young age. His grandfather was a fisherman and a young Liam would spend time cooking the catch of the day with his grandmother. He says that fish is still one of his favourite foods to cook and eat.

Liam has won awards for his culinary skills but says he takes greater pride in a full restaurant and happy customers.

The Castle Hotel, Taunton
Former 13th-century gatehouse, a contemporary brasserie and a casual bar
More about this venue

Salmon Balletine

By chef Liam Finnegan


Ask your fishmonger to remove the skin and bloodline from your salmon fillet – this will take precision and time.

For the brine, mix 1 litre of water with 200g of salt in a pot and bring to the boil then remove from heat. Add lemon zest, chopped dill and parsley stalks, and crushed white pepper.

Once the brine is completely cooled, pour it over the fish to cover and leave for 30 minutes, then rinse the salmon under a cold tap and place on a cloth to remove excess water.

Using a sharp knife, fine chop the chives, dill and parsley leaves. Roll the salmon in the chopped herbs and wrap tightly in cling film. To finish the ballotine, bring water in a pan to a simmer and drop the cling filmed ballotine in for 10 seconds. Take out and chill in iced water – once cold leave in fridge until ready to serve.

To make lemon puree, put two whole lemons in a small pot, cover with water and bring to the boil for 7 minutes, then blend and balance out by adding stock syrup and fresh lemon juice to taste.

Chop and cook the fennel stalks in a pan with butter, salt and pepper. Once cooked, add cream and simmer for 12–18 minutes. Strain and reserve the cream. Blend the cooked fennel in a food processor, adding the strained cream for desired consistency. Slice remaining fennel bulbs lengthwise and char-grill to sear the edges.

When ready to serve, mix the rapeseed oil, white wine vinegar, thyme and garlic to make a vinaigrette, season with salt and pepper. Dress the samphire, charred fennel, and remaining salad and herbs with the vinaigrette.

Remove cling film and slice the salmon ballotine, plate up with salad and herbs to serve.

The Castle Hotel

This recipe is featured in our book Signature Chefs South West & Channel Islands. Click here for more information.

Ingredients for four servings:


  • 1 Litre Water
  • 200G Salt
  • 18G Crushed White Pepper
  • 20G Of Dill And 20G Parsley, Remove Stalks
  • 20G Chives
  • Zest Of 2 Lemons
  • 1⁄2 Salmon Fillet

Lemon Purée

  • 2 Whole Lemons
  • Juice Of 2 Lemons
  • Stock Syrup

Fennel Purée

  • Stalks From 2 Heads Of Fennel, Chopped
  • 50G Butter
  • 100Ml Cream


  • 200Ml Rapeseed Oil
  • 50Ml White Wine Vinegar
  • Sprig Of Thyme
  • Minced Garlic Clove
  • Salt And Pepper To Taste


  • 30G Marsh Samphire
  •  Fresh Herbs And Salad Leaves

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