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.
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.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).