My tried-and-true method for cooking a whole side of salmon is roasting it at a low temperature. There’s no need to worry about undercooking or overcooking because the fish cooks slowly, gently coasting into the perfect range of doneness.
Whole Side of Salmon and Herb Sauce
For the salmon
3 large handfuls of fresh herb sprigs, such as rosemary (optional)
1 whole skin-on side of salmon (about 1.4kg)
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the herb sauce
3 garlic cloves
2 tbsp capers, rinsed
2 bunches flat-leaf parsley, tough bottom stems trimmed
2 tbsp red wine vinegar, plus more if needed
zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp fine sea salt, plus more if needed
freshly ground black pepper
180ml olive oil
Make the salmon: Preheat the oven to 120°C/gas mark ½.
Mound the fresh herb sprigs (if using) on a baking sheet and spread them out into a fluffy bed about the same size and shape as the salmon. Place the salmon, skin-side down, over the herbs. Drizzle about 2 tbsp oil over the fish and season generously with salt and pepper. Bake until just cooked in the centre, 20 to 40 minutes, depending on thickness. To test for doneness, poke a fork into the thickest part of the fish and twist – if the salmon flakes apart, it’s done. You can also try sticking the handle of a wooden spoon underneath the fillet and gently lifting – look for the salmon to flake apart.
Make the herb sauce: In a food processor, combine the garlic, capers, parsley, vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and lots of pepper and process until the parsley is finely chopped. You may need to stop the machine and scrape down the sides a couple of times. Add the olive oil and process to combine. Taste, adding more salt if needed. If the sauce tastes oilier than you’d like, stir in another splash of vinegar.
Serve the salmon warm or chilled, with the herb sauce on the side.
Extracted from The Newlywed Table by Maria Zizka (Artisan Books, approx €27). Copyright © 2019. Photographs by Aya Brackett.