Confession time: I used to really hate cooking fish. I’d often come home with some beautiful filet, pan fry it with a bit of olive oil and maybe butter, only to dig in and find I’d seriously misjudged the doneness before taking it out of the pan. Nothing worse! It’s kind of embarrassing to admit that my fish cookery skills were so bad, since I’m pretty sure there was an entire course on that during culinary school.
But after a bit of trial and error, I’ve discovered the easiest, no-fuss way to cook really delicious fish is to roast it. Virtually any fish can be easily cooked in the oven, whether it’s a light, flaky red snapper, a heftier, richer salmon, or even a whole fish like branzino. You can throw it in with nothing more than some slices of lemon, some thyme, and a drizzle of olive oil, or go all out and create a sauce to bake it in (like Ina’s mustard roasted fish I made a ways back).
Last week, I picked up a couple salmon filets, and with a few simple ingredients, was able to create a bright, zippy little marinade/coating/sauce in about five minutes. In another 10, dinner was done. I can’t argue with that!
Weeknight Salmon with Lemon and Chive Sauce
- 1 whole bunch of chives, rinsed and finely chopped
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- zest of 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp lemon juice (about the juice of half a lemon)
- — kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4-6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (depending on how big your filets are — the final ‘sauce’ should be thin enough to easily mix, but thick enough to spread and not run everywhere.)
- 2 6-8oz filets of wild salmon. Ask your fish monger to give you similar size pieces, that are cut from the center of the fish, so that one end of your filet does not taper too much into a thin little piece that will overcook! I look for pieces that are less skinny and rectangular and more square(ish).
Preheat your oven to 400Â°F.
Mix all of the ingredients (except for the salmon, natch) in a small bowl until well combined. Spread on the flesh side of your filets (the skin should be face down in the baking pan), and bake until the fish is cooked through but still tender and flaky, around 10-15 minutes depending on the thickness of the filet. The sauce that has oozed over the sides will be bubbly and smell really good. I served our fish with a garnish of parsley and lacinto kale sauteed in olive oil and garlic!
A little note about purchasing salmon. I personally choose to only buy wild salmon. I saw a news segment on farmed salmon a few years back and it kind of grossed me out. From what I’ve read, the quality of the omega-3s you get from wild salmon (and almost all wild cold-water fish) is better than that of farmed fish. And, wild salmon doesn’t always have to cost more. Look for sockeye or coho varieties, which do not refer to any quality difference, but are an entirely different variety of salmon that I think taste great and are usually much less expensive than king salmon!