I learned this recipe from Mark Bittman's book, aptly titled Fish. It's a terrific book filled with good recipes and up-to-date information on every pescatorial situation you're likely to encounter and then some. The beauty of this particular recipe is that it's fast, easy, and requires no special tricks of flicks of the wrist. And, if the salmon is impeccably fresh, it's unbeatable.
In keeping with the spirit of simplicity, I serve this with another harbinger of Spring, sugar snap peas. Just drop them in boiling water for 2 or 3 minutes--just enough to take way the raw taste but still leave them crisp. No need for a sauce, the butter and parsley from the fish will be perfect.
Roasting pan or baking dish that just holds the fish
1 pound salmon filet, skin left on
2 T. butter
Salt and pepper
A small handful chopped parsley
1) Heat the oven to 475 degrees.
2) When the oven's up to speed, melt the butter in the roasting pan (you can do this in the oven while it's heating up).
3) Rinse and pat the salmon dry with paper towels. Lay the filet in the pan, skin up, and bake for 5 minutes. Then turn the fish and bake another 5 minutes, or until the fish is done.*
4) While the fish cooks, chop a small handful of parsley. To serve, put the filet on a serving platter, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and parsley, and pour the melted butter over the fish. If you're fast, the parsley will sizzle a bit from the hot butter.
*Done—Timing will vary depending on how thick the filet is, but make sure your oven is 475 degrees before putting the fish in.
Now ultimately, the only way to tell when fish is done is to get in there and look. Press on the fish, if it flakes apart, it's definitely done. But if it doesn't quite fall apart, look between the flakes at the thickest point. A thin streak of raw at this point is perfect--the fish will continue to cook itself.
With salmon, "done" is really a matter of taste. If the fish is really fresh, medium-rare can be delicious. But if you have any doubts about a fish's absolute freshness (supermarket fish counters), be conservative and cook the fish until it's done, that is, until you see the hairline of raw in the middle.
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