Slow Roasted Salmon with Herb Sauce
My intolerance to a plate of crispy-skinned salmon is what tipped me off to my second pregnancy. Having babies always made me sensitive to strong odors, so after cooking a couple of filets in a cast iron pan, the smell was so abhorrent I tossed the leftovers in an outdoor trash can and put the skillet in our backyard until every last fume evaporated. A pregnancy test the next day confirmed my hunch.
Best Oven-Baked Salmon Recipe
Had I known about slow-roasted salmon back then, I may have been able to enjoy the famously healthy fish all those months, bestowing my baby with its invaluable omega-3s. Indeed, slow-roasted salmon is the most effortless, least stinky method I know and yields a fork-tender fillet that’s delicious bare naked and made even better smothered in an herby, garlic-flecked sauce.
Herb Sauce for Salmon
Before we get to the salmon, let’s talk a little bit about the sauce. It’s called The Only Green Sauce You’ll Ever need, an recipe (that sounds gourmet) from the lovely new cookbook, Everyday is Saturday by Sarah Copeland. Made with fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil, and a few other goodies, the sauce is excellent with salmon, but equally good spooned on eggs, spread inside a grilled cheese sandwich, or drizzled over cooked vegetables. It’s also pretty darn emblematic of the kinds of bright, inspired, and simple recipes you’ll find in the cookbook.
Salmon Has a Season
Back to that salmon, which is an excellent thing to cook at the moment, since it’s in season. Although you can buy fresh salmon year-round, wild salmon season doesn’t kick in until April, peaks in the summer, and continues into October, depending on where you get your fish from. Is it expensive? Usually, particularly King salmon, but other varieties, such as Coho and Sockeye are more economical.
How to Defrost Fish
When I can’t get my hands on fresh, wild salmon (or the price tag is too steep) I tend to go for wild frozen fish. Frozen sockeye salmon, for example, is widely available in places like Sprouts Farmers Market and Trader Joe’s and is often more affordable than what’s in the seafood case.
To defrost salmon, transfer it from freezer to fridge and leave it overnight. When you don’t have the luxury of time, immerse the salmon, still in the plastic, in a big bowl of cold water and leave it for about an hour, changing the water once or twice during that time.
Is Farmed Salmon Healthy?
Alternatively, there’s farmed salmon, available fresh year-round. It’s a source of protein for sure, with an overall fat content generally higher than wild salmon. That gives it richness and flavor, but those fats don’t stack up to wild in terms of heart healthy omega-3s. The good news is that farmed salmon has come a long way in its sustainability. My recommendation is that you buy fish from a reputable source, either a fishmonger you trust or a market that has clear standards for their seafood (which you can uncover with a quick online search). You can also peruse the Seafood Watch guidelines for recommendations.
How to Make Slow Roasted Salmon — step-by-step
The method for making roasted salmon is easy, with just a few quick steps:
- Lay the salmon on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 250 F until opaque and the flesh just begins to flake with a fork.
- While the fish cooks whiz up the herb sauce in a food processor. Alternatively, you can serve the salmon with a quick side of Greek yogurt mixed with lemon zest, olive oil, and salt.
- Spoon the herb sauce over the top of the salmon and enjoy.
Be sure to check out these other easy, healthy salmon recipes:
Easy Honey Garlic Salmon by Cafe Delites
Baked Salmon in Foil by Well Plated
Slow-Roasted Salmon with Herb Sauce
Roasting salmon low and slow is an easy way to get excellent, fork-tender fish. Pair it with an herby sauce that you whiz up in the blender and slather over the finished fish. If you don’t have herbs on hand, a quick yogurt sauce makes a suitable companion: stir together 2/3 cup Greek yogurt with 1 tablespoon olive oil, the zest of 1 lemon, and a generous pinch of salt. Serve on the side.
For the Salmon
- 1 1/2 pounds salmon
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
For the Green Sauce
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro (or parsley) (about 3 cups)
- 1 small bunch fresh chives
- Juice of 1 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
- 1 small garlic clove, peeled
- 2 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 medium avocado
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt (give or take)
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
Lay the fish, skin-side-down, on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Run a finger along the top of the filet until you find the row of tiny fish bones. Use a pair of tweezers to pluck them out. Rub the top of the fish with the olive oil and season with salt and a light shower of black pepper.
Roast until the fish is just barely opaque and begins to flake with a fork. Figure 125 degrees F for medium-rare when an instant read thermometer is inserted in thickest part of the fish, 25 to 30 minutes. (The USDA recommends fish cook to 145 degrees F, but keep in mind that the temperature will continue to rise after you pull it from the oven. )
While the salmon cooks, make the Green Sauce. Add the cilantro, chives, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, avocado, salt, and pepper in a blender and pulse until broken down and easy to dollop with a spoon (adding a tablespoon or more of water if needed to thin and get the blender going)
Transfer the fish to a serving platter and spoon some of the Green Sauce of the top. You will likely have leftover sauce, which is excellent on vegetables, eggs, and toast.
Green Sauce recipe reprinted with permission from Every Day is Saturday from Chronicle Books, photo by Gentl + Hyers, food styling by Sarah Copeland