Why this recipe works:
Roasting a salmon fillet can create a brown exterior, but often at the risk of a dry, overcooked interior. The best roasted salmon should have moist, flavorful flesh inside, with a contrasting crisp texture on the outside.
In order to ensure that the salmon fillets would cook evenly, we cut a whole center-cut fillet into four pieces. We roasted the fish at a low temperature and achieved the buttery flesh we were after, but no browning—and the fillets were a little mushy from the rendered fat. Taking the opposite approach, we put the fish on a preheated baking sheet and started the oven at a high temperature to firm up and brown the exterior. This gave us a crust, but we still needed to get rid of the fat; cutting slits in the skin released the fat rendered by the high heat. Lowering the temperature as soon as we put the fish in the oven enabled it to cook through gradually after the initial blast of heat, so it didn’t dry out. Now we had the contrast between moist interior and crisp brown exterior that we wanted. Salmon is rich and flavorful all on its own, but we devised a couple of easy no-cook relishes that can be served alongside for even more flavor
- 4 4
- 1 1 3/4 to 2 1 1/2 3/4 to 2 pounds), about 1 1/2 inches at thickest part (see note)
- 2 2teaspoons 2teaspoons olive oil
- Salt and ground black pepper
1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Following step by step illustrations below, use sharp knife to remove any whitish fat from belly of fillet and cut into 4 equal pieces. Make 4 or 5 shallow slashes about an inch apart along skin side of each piece, being careful not to cut into flesh.
2. Pat salmon dry with paper towels. Rub fillets evenly with oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees and remove baking sheet. Carefully place salmon skin-side down on baking sheet. Roast until centers of thickest part of fillets are still translucent when cut into with paring knife or instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part of fillets registers 125 degrees, 9 to 13 minutes. Transfer fillets to individual plates or platter. Top with relish (see related recipes) and serve.
Preparing Salmon for Roasting
1. Hold a sharp knife at a slight downward angle to the flesh and cut off the whitish, fatty portion of the belly.
2. Cut the salmon fillet into four pieces of equal size to help ensure that they cook at the same rate.
3. Make four or five shallow slashes along the skin side of each piece of fish, being careful not to cut into the flesh.