By Alison Roman, The New York Times
Every so often, someone writes an article or blog post or tweet about how they wish people who wrote recipes would just “shut up and publish the recipe.” They don’t want to hear about how chickpeas were your childhood dog’s favorite food, or how a particular pasta dish in a small town outside Rome led to a brief but fiery love affair. They want the facts. They want the ingredients and the amounts and the instructions, and that’s it!
I am not going to write a counterpoint, though maybe, one day, I will. (I’m sure you can guess my feelings on the subject.) Today, I will be giving those people what they want. A salmon recipe! A very good salmon recipe, at that. No story, no romantic segue into how this dish came to be — just salmon that you can make for dinner, tonight.
Sure, I could tell a story about how this Very Good Salmon, smothered in a tangy dressing made from whole lemons, diced shallot and just the correct amount of fresh oregano, reminds me of a trip to Greece I once took. But I am an honest woman and I have never been to Greece, so consider yourself spared.
After being dressed, the salmon is roasted low and slow, lower and slower than you have patience for, but I strongly believe it’s the best way to cook salmon. The low temperature allows the stripes of fat to melt without overcooking, resulting in an evenly textured, extremely silky piece of fish. The extra time in the oven at a gentle temperature also allows the flavors of the dressing to get to know one another, which is like a metaphor for a story I absolutely will not be telling you here, because who has time for a story when there is dinner to make?
Once out of the oven, the salmon is broken up at your discretion (no need to be fussy about this step, just break it up as you like — I use a fish spatula, but any large spoon or fork will also do the trick) and served however you like. This time of year, I am practically all pasta-ed out, so I like to serve this salmon on top of crunchy lettuces. I wouldn’t call it a salad, as this dish is still decidedly more salmon than lettuce. But you didn’t come here for my personal essay on what makes a salad a salad, so let’s get to the point!
Salmon With Whole Lemon Dressing
Yield: 4 servings
Total time: 30 minutes
- 2 lemons, seeds removed, peel, pith and fruit finely chopped
- 1 small shallot or garlic clove, finely chopped
- 3 oregano, marjoram or thyme sprigs, leaves stripped, chopped
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 1/2 pounds skin-on salmon fillet (skinless is fine in a pinch)
- 1 head butter or Little Gem lettuce, torn into large pieces
- 2 Persian cucumbers or radishes, or both, sliced, for serving
1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a small bowl, combine finely chopped lemon, shallot, oregano and vinegar for the dressing. Season with salt and pepper, and add 1/4 cup olive oil. Set aside.
2. Season salmon on both sides with salt and pepper. Place skin-side down in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish (or other 2-quart equivalent). Spoon half the lemon dressing over the salmon, and place in the oven until salmon is just cooked through but still a nice orange-pink in the thickest parts for more of a medium-rare salmon, 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet.
3. Meanwhile, scatter lettuces onto a large serving platter. Once salmon is out of the oven, use a spoon or spatula to transfer it to the serving platter with the lettuces, leaving behind the skin. Spoon remaining lemon dressing over the salmon and lettuces. Serve alongside cucumbers or radishes, or both, for crunch.