Weeknight Cooking

Foil Roasted Salmon with an Aromatic Jus

December  6, 2010

Foil Roasted Salmon with an Aromatic Jus

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Foil Roasted Salmon with an Aromatic Jus

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- Jenny

I cook a lot of salmon, and as such, I write about the fish here often, too. In truth, salmon is a pesky protein, because unless it is bathed in Asian seasonings, I find, it usually just tastes like, well, salmon. But that is a flavor that the incipient pescatarian likes a lot, and salmon –- the good, wild stuff –- seems to be one of the few things one can feed her family these days without worry of a slow death due to toxins. Finally, it dances well with all fire partners –- grills, broilers, frying pans and no heat at all; salmon’s got it going on.

Ever in search of new ways to cook it, I turned to Foil Roasted Salmon with an Aromatic Jus. Glancing over this recipe, you can see why it is perfect for weeknight cooking. As long as you shop in advance -– I never seem to have leeks just hanging around, though I should –- the whole dish takes about five minutes to assemble, maybe a bit more if you have a lot of pin bones to pull out, a task I have an unhealthy affection for.

You make your salmon a lovely bed of leeks, shallots and garlic, set him upon it, then add more of the same with herbs. Please be generous with your onion family, because you want this fish to pick up their aromas.

Once you have made the fish a nice little foil pup tent, go ahead and carefully drizzle your wine on top. (I used Champagne, because my friend Elisabeth had come earlier in the day for tea, and tea in my house means Champagne, which is how I manage to maintain a respectable passel of girlfriends, in spite of a fairly disagreeable personality and a penchant for despising every place I move to until it is time to leave, at which point it becomes Xanadu, but none of that really has anything to do with salmon so I am just going to move on to the part about the oven now.)

Once you have your fish in, please watch it carefully, as even two pounds may cook more quickly than you thought, as I learned the hard way. Indeed I regret to inform you, through my fault and none of monkeymom, the recipe’s author, my first attempt at this dish ended a little blandly. Here is how I fixed that on my second attempt:

I took the skin off my next piece, a far smaller one, but used the same amount of leeks, and was very generous with the grey sea salt all over both sides. (Taking the skin off is a no-no when payfrying, but in this case, when you are essentially steaming, I think it is a good move.) The fact that I used almost the same amount of leeks and shallots and a bay leaf for a serving half the size told me that I had short changed my earlier salmon. Finally, I was much more careful about watching it cook -– monkeymom suggests you use a thermometer, which is too much trouble for me, but I did carefully peek at it because obviously overcooking it ruins the subtle flavors here. It gets these nice telltale white spots -– and you can go ahead and cut into it.

“This is way better mom,” said the I.P. And I agree. Serve it with some Isreal cous cous. There is basically no clean up, so fold some laundry instead.

Foil Roasted Salmon with an Aromatic Jus

By monkeymom

Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 pounds salmon filet
  • 1 large leek (you can substitute green garlic or spring onions)
  • 1 large shallot, sliced (you can substitute onion)
  • 1 garlic clove, sliced thinly
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 to 6 fresh tarragon or thyme stems (you can substitute your herb of choice)
  • 1 cup white wine
  • Salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Slice leek in half lengthwise beginning at white end but not cutting through green end. Rinse thoroughly under cold water separating leaves to remove trapped dirt. Cut green ends off of leek and reserve. Slice white and light green parts.

3. Select a baking sheet large enough to accommodate the fish. Lay out a long double length of heavy-duty aluminum foil on top of the baking sheet across the shorter end of the sheet. Place another perpendicular to the first.

4. Lay out the leek greens on the foil to form a bed where your salmon can nestle. Add half of the sliced leeks, shallots, garlic, herbs and bay leaves. Place the cleaned salmon on top of greens. Generously salt and pepper the both sides of the salmon. Drizzle all over with olive oil and rub to cover top and bottom. Lay tarragon or other herb stems across the top of the fish and cover the top with the rest of the sliced leeks.

5. Optional step: insert an electronic meat thermometer probe inside the thickest end of the salmon. This will help you monitor the cooking process without opening the foil.

6. Bring up the edges of the foil along both ends of the salmon. Add the wine. Seal the edges together to form a compact tent around the salmon (let the cord of the thermometer poke through one of the seams if you are using one). Repeat with the second layer of foil. The salmon can rest until you are ready to roast.

7. Place in oven. Roast until internal temperature is 140 degrees. For a 2-3 lb salmon filet this took about 25-30 minutes.

8. Let rest for at least 10 minutes. Unwrap and remove to serving platter. Discard green leek ends.Top exposed flesh with jus and vegetables.

Note: This is also a fantastic way to cook whole salmon. For a 4lb salmon, you can use relatively the same amount of ingredients. Increase cooking time to 35-40 minutes.

By day, Jennifer Steinhauer, aka Jenny, covers Congress for The New York Times. By night, she is an obsessive cook.


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katekirk December 13, 2010
The recipe sounds great but I particularly like your mid-story "ramble." :)
Jestei January 1, 2011
obleak1 December 13, 2010
This recipe reminds me of one of the most memorable meals I have ever been served. While living in Northern British Columbia I was invited to an outdoor meal hosted by Native Canadians. A fire was built, and a hole was dug. Onions, herbs, and lemons were prepared and waiting. Since Native Canadians are allowed to gill net, they very quickly pulled a magnificent salmon from the water. It was quickly cleaned right there on the river bank, the cavity was stuffed with the aromatics and butter, and it was then wrapped in foil and buried in the hole surrounded with the fire heated rocks. It was utterly delicious. I'm definitely going to try this!
Jestei January 1, 2011
what a charming story. it sounds like a great time; i would love to visit there. and, apparently, eat salmon.
calendargirl December 13, 2010
Ooohh, would love a meet up.
Jestei January 1, 2011
let's do it!
calendargirl December 12, 2010
many thoughts: just made this with salmon pieces, so followed drbabs' method of a sauteing the leeks, etc., first, which worked beautifully. nice trick! thanks jenny for the tip on finding meyer lemons @ tenley WF, now they seem to be everywhere -- hooray. loved reading your piece on capitol hill eateries by the way, and hope that sort of story has been added to your beat. and greenstuff is correct, the link between alzheimers' (also my mother's affliction) and aluminum has been discredited (though it does seem to persist).
Jestei December 13, 2010
You're wonderful thank you! We should have a meet up!
mrslarkin December 6, 2010
Yum! I'm definitely going to try this with parchment.
Jestei December 7, 2010
please tell me how it works out super curious
The A. December 6, 2010
Wonderful recipe, salmon is a favorite and this is just delicious.
Jestei December 6, 2010
thank you for commenting. how do sea snails taste?
The A. December 6, 2010
Hello, they are very similarin flavor and texture to clam and are a bit chewy or tough unless marinated...Not too dissimilar to more known escargot for the most part. But they are quite versatile when prepared correctly:)
monkeymom December 6, 2010
Hey Jenny, I'm so excited that you cooked this! Really, one of my favorite things about food52 is to share food like this with all sorts of cooks in who knows where. I confess that I developed this recipe for whole salmon so the cooking time is longer for a bigger piece, meaning the aromatics probably have more time to cook down. Also, I am always kind of alarmed by how much salt I put on my food...it really makes a huge difference though, doesn't it? Thanks for making my recipe and my week!
Jestei December 6, 2010
i love salt. and i love this recipe!
Sagegreen December 6, 2010
Jenny, I love the meaning you give tea. Monkeymom's recipe with champagne sounds divine. ( I wonder if you could make this in a parchment tent just as easily? We worry about toxins with fish, but I worry about Alzheimers, too...which was my mom's fate. So I try to avoid aluminum.) Lovely recipe, wonderful column as always.
drbabs December 6, 2010
Annaliese, I'm sure you could use parchment.
Jestei December 6, 2010
wow i really need to think about this aluminum issue. thank you for bringing it up. maybe monkeymom can weigh in on parchment? my only worry is how to make it close properly.
Greenstuff December 6, 2010
I'm quite sure that parchment would work for this recipe. But..while the possibility of a link between aluminum and Alzheimer's was proposed in the 1960s, it was pretty well discredited by the 90s.
monkeymom December 7, 2010
I have never used parchment to cook fish. I had a bad experience when I first tried it at Gladstone's in LA...it tasted burnt. It is one of the only dishes I've ever sent back to the kitchen. I've seen many recipes that use parchment to cook fish that use very careful folding to trap the steam....should work!
drbabs December 6, 2010
(laughing) Jenny, thank you for making my day. I'm home alone tonight, and there's a piece of salmon (and leeks! which i don't usually have but miraculously do today!) in my refrigerator with this recipe's name on it.
Sagegreen December 6, 2010
Barbara, I hope you have some champagne, too!
drbabs December 6, 2010
I ALWAYS have Champagne!
Jestei December 6, 2010
so??? how did it work??
drbabs December 6, 2010
Good! My piece of fish was really small and I knew it would cook quickly so I sauteed the leeks, shallot and garlic in a little oil first until they were softened. It was delicious! Will definitely make again! (And I got to use tarragon and thyme from my garden before they freeze into oblivion so that was an added bonus.)
monkeymom December 7, 2010
You are so smart drbabs to saute the veggies first! Glad you liked it!