LC Um, A Little Help, Please? Note
Can’t you just see yourself setting a stunning whole roast salmon down in the center of the table amid a chorus of oohs and aahs? Although then comes the moment of reckoning, sort of like after you plunk a beautifully burnished bird on the Thanksgiving table. What the heck do you do now, you may find yourself silently screaming.
Um, a little help, please?
The way we see things, you have a couple potential courses of action. Using your most impressive and sharpest knife, you can cut just below the head of the salmon through to the bone. Turn the knife at an angle and slice lengthwise along the spine, then carefully lift the fish fillet off the bone in a single piece, if you can, and transfer it to a second platter. Turn the fish over and repeat on the other side. Using a spatula, divvy the fillets into individual servings. Either that or forego all airs and pretense of civility and let everyone have at it with their forks.
Roasted Salmon with Dill Sauce
- Quick Glance
- 20 M
- 1 H, 45 M
- Serves 6
Rinse the salmon and pat it dry. Wielding a large kitchen knife, cut three parallel diagonal slashes into each side of the fish, starting just behind the bones around the head and slicing almost but not quite through to the bone. Situate the fish diagonally in an 18-by-13-by-2-inch or similar-size roasting pan. (If part of the fish head and/or tail hangs over the corners of the pan, don’t worry, that’s fine.) Rub the olive oil and lemon juice into both sides of the fish, including the slashes, and also inside the cavity. Then sprinkle both sides of the fish with salt and pepper to taste. Cram 2 bunches of dill inside the cavity. Let the salmon rest at room temperature for about an hour.
Meanwhile, finely chop the top fronds from the remaining bunch of dill and set them aside. About 45 minutes before you’d like to sit down to dinner, adjust the oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 500°F. Be sure to let the oven heat for at least 20 minutes.
When the oven is ready, slide the salmon in its roasting pan into the oven and roast for about 25 minutes for medium to medium-rare salmon. (If you prefer your salmon more well done or if your salmon is thicker than 2 1/2 inches, leave it in the oven a little longer. We recommend reducing the oven temperature to 350°F after the first 25 minutes and continuing to roast it for 10 minutes or so more. You’ll end up with salmon that’s cooked almost all the way through yet remains remarkably moist.)
Using two very large spatulas, carefully transfer the salmon to a platter. Place the roasting pan on top of the stove and add the white wine, almost all of the reserved chopped dill, and the dill seeds. Bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the pan vigorously with a wooden spoon. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Strain the dill sauce, if desired. Add the remaining chopped dill to the sauce, transfer to a small serving dish, and pass alongside the salmon.
Recipe Testers' Tips
This is a very simple and to-the-point recipe that results in a juicy, well-seasoned, and inviting salmon that would fit right into any weekend meal. The skin was crisp, the salmon flaky and juicy. The only correction I made was to add two tablespoons of unsalted butter and a tablespoon of fresh dill to the sauce; I found the butter provided silkiness and balance. Try this recipe–it’s easy, tasty, and impressive!
First, full disclosure: I couldn’t for the life of me find a whole salmon, so I ended up buying two two-pound fillets that I slapped together. That it worked quite well is a testament to what a straightforward recipe this is, and also to how delicious salmon can be when it’s more or less left to its own devices. The massive amounts of dill somehow didn’t overpower the fish but instead accented its charms, as did the lemon juice, and the hot oven produced a very tender fish. My only quibble is that because there were so few drippings from the fish, there wasn’t really anything to cook down with the wine. I basically ended up with hot wine mixed with dill. I compensated by adding a small amount of butter, which gave the sauce more body, and it’s since melded quite nicely with the leftover fish. Leftovers, incidentally, are one of the recipe’s greater virtues–it just gets better with age. One technical note: the fish didn’t cook all the way through in the time given. Because I didn’t want to dry it out, I decreased the temperature to 350° and let it cook for about seven more minutes, and it came out beautifully.