Roast Salmon - Summer Entertaining

Excitement brewed in my house last week.  We were all under the illusion that summer was finally on its way.  The sun appeared shining its glorious rays on the garden now in its full spring glory, I bought a new BBQ, and was able to ditch my jacket and wander around town wearing only a t-shirt and thin cotton sweater.  Sheer bliss. In all my springtime excitement, I invited some friends for lunch, imagining us leisurely dining outside, gorging ourselves on a cold buffet selection and whiling away the afternoon hours in the sunshine.  I eagerly planned a menu full of the joys of spring.

oven ready salmon
oven ready salmon

After finding a beautiful coral colored organic salmon at the fishmongers, I decided that my go-to recipe of roast salmon on a bed of fennel, lemon and herbs was going to be the dish of the day.  It is simple to make, moist, great at room temperature, and a perfect crowd pleaser. With it, there are numerous options for sides.

Alas, despite getting all my ducks in a row on the food front, the weather decided to change course.  It has been raining in London since Saturday morning.  But I already had all the food, so I ploughed on with my menu as planned, and we ate our summertime feast inside.  It was still delicious, and this roast salmon still retains its place as a favourite entertaining dish.  And the leftovers are wonderful in fishcakes, sandwiches, flaked into salads.......the list is endless.

herb and fennel base for salmon
herb and fennel base for salmon

Roast Salmon

I used a large (4.5kilo/9.5lb) whole salmon in two whole fillets for 18 people. Please feel free to halve the recipe and make one filet instead.  Cooking time remains the same

I like to roast the salmon fillets whole, as it retains the moisture, and looks very striking when brought to the table.  It is a little bit more fiddly to serve, but single portions cook much more quickly, which does not give the vegetables and herbs underneath time to cook through.

Serve with either salsa verde, dill and mustard sauce, some Greek yoghurt with shallots, dill, lemon and cucumber, or simply with lemon wedges.

1 whole large salmon in 2 fillets with skin on

2 bunches of spring onions (scallions)

2 medium sized fennel bulbs

1 small bunch of each parsley, dill and tarragon

1-2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

3 large lemons

1-2tbsp butter

Preheat oven to 220C (425F)

Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  You should be able to fit both fish fillets side by side, but if it is too big, you may need to use two baking sheets.  (If you are making one larger fillet, you can cut it in half to make it fit more easily.)

Rinse salmon and dry well.  Make sure all pinbones are removed from salmon fillets

Trim the spring onions and cut the white and green parts into 5cm (2inch) pieces, and sprinkle on the bottom of the baking sheet

Slice the fennel bulbs in half and then into slices, keeping the fonds, and add to spring onions

Roughly chop herbs and add to baking sheet with fennel and spring onion

Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and mix to combine

Slice 2 lemons into 8-10 slices depending on the size of the lemon,  and lay slices out over the aromatics ready to place the salmon on top.  Slice last lemon and reserve for top of fish

ready for salmon
ready for salmon

Lay each salmon fillet on top of the lemon slices and season with salt and pepper

Lay the remaining lemon slices over the top of the fillets and dab each piece with 6-8 small (pea sized) dabs of butter

Roast in hot oven for 25 minutes or until cooked through (depending on the size and thickness of each piece of salmon)

To test for done-ness place the tip of a knife into the thickest part of the fillet and hold there for 2-3 seconds.  If the top is hot, the fish is done.

Serve warm or at room temperature.  You can make this the day before, just remove it from the fridge an hour before serving to bring it to room temperature.  I serve this in the form it is baked - on the baking tray and the parchment paper with all the roasted herbs and fennel underneath, as they too are quite scrummy.

roast salmon ready to serve
roast salmon ready to serve