Friday, 16 September 2011

Fool-Proof Baked Salmon Fillets

There is nothing worse than over-cooked fish. You want fish really to be "just done" and it's a bit of a nightmare when you're trying to grill or pan fry fillets of salmon which are different thicknesses. Pan-frying fish is lovely, but the fish has to be pretty even in terms of thickness to ensure that it is cooked through.

The easiest way I have found to get perfect results is to use a combination of pan frying and baking in the oven.

This method applies to almost any fish but the cooking time varies depending on how thick the fillet is. the reason I call this method "fool-proof" is because it's quite forgiving in terms of cooking times and it's very difficult to end up with dry rubbery fish as long as you check it and give it your full attention.

You can use whatever seasoning and flavouring you want and serve with whatever you feel like but as a general rule of thumb, fish love the following: basil, chilli, garlic, dill, parsley, fennel, tarragon, lime.

I didn't put lemon in that list because it is an absolute MUST when cooking salmon or any fish this way, good olive oil is also very important (although clarified butter works well too).

The picture above is salmon with chilli, garlic and tarragon, served with rice on a roasted red pepper with roasted cherry tomatoes.

You will need:

Salmon fillets (preferably skin-on) 1 per person
Olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon per fillet
Salt and pepper
Tin foil

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Add a splash of olive oil to a pan and allow to get really hot on the hob.

Using the tin foil, create a sort of tray with a lid that is big enough to hold your salmon fillets. It needs to be water-tight to retain the liquid at the bottom and the top needs to cover the fish completely.

Pour a generous glug of olive oil and the lemon juice into the foil tray to make a bath for the salmon to sit in. At this point you would also add whatever else you are flavouring the fish with... chilli, tarragon etc. Season this well with salt and a little pepper and set aside on a baking tray.

Put the fillets into the hot pan skin side down and fry for a couple of minutes or until the skin (or visible side when serving) has colour. Take it off the heat and carefully transfer to the foil tray that you prepared earlier. Cover with the foil lid and put in the oven for about 7-10 minutes.

Check that the salmon is done by gently cutting into the thickest part of the fillet and making sure it has turned pink and is lovely and flaky. If it's still a little raw, leave for another 5 mins and check again.

Serve immediately with whatever you feel like!