Another baked salmon recipe? Uh, heck yeah! I don’t know about you, but baked salmon is one of those concepts that I know I can slap together in 10 minutes and sit down to eat within the hour, if not less. The idea is just as welcome when planning a celebratory meal as it is a weeknight dinner. Plus, you’ll spend less on the whole fillet of fish than you would on a salmon entrée for one at a restaurant. If salmon is looking a bit pricey at the store this week (or all the salon is gone), buy arctic char, a similarly fatty fish that’s more common, and therefore less expensive, than both farmed and wild salmon.
But let me also tell you why you do in fact need another baked salmon recipe in your repertoire. This one is fall-apart tender (thanks to a bath in olive oil—don’t we all wish we could take one!), tangy (thanks to white wine vinegar), garlicky (thanks to, well, garlic), and, if you like, just the right amount of spicy (thanks to fiery Calabrian chile paste). The paste is available online and at a lot of Italian markets, but if you can’t find it, simply use whatever chile paste you have on hand, like harissa, gochujang, or sambal oelek; a teaspoon of crushed chile flakes will also work in a pinch. And when it comes to the salmon itself: I don’t do the whole slicing your fish into polite portion-sized fillets-thing, and I don't buy them precut at the grocery store either. I prefer to bake the whole 1 1/2 pounds of fish in one or two large pieces. The thinner edges will be more well-done, leaving the fatty center a bit more medium or medium-rare—something for everyone, and an overall more exciting textural moment. And to serve? I don’t neatly slice there, either. Use a big spoon to gently break up the baked salmon into a few large pieces, then plop it all on a big platter. So much more fun.
To round out the meal, I recommend transferring the salmon to a plate after it’s finished cooking, then tossing a pound of 1-inch (or smaller) waxy potatoes like fingerling, new, or Yukon Golds into the baking dish and returning the pan to the oven to bake until tender. Serve everything on one plate, with the pan drippings and lots of fresh lemon juice squeezed over. —Rebecca Firkser
- Prep time 10 minutes
- Cook time 25 minutes
- Serves 3-4
1 1/2 pounds
skin-on salmon fillet, picked through for bones
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
garlic cloves, grated
white wine vinegar
Calabrian chile paste (if you don’t like heat, skip this)
- Heat the oven to 375°F and place the salmon (skin side down) in a 2-quart baking dish or on a rimmed sheet pan. Zest and juice 1 lemon. Drizzle the fillet with lemon juice, then season with salt and pepper.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, olive oil, grated garlic, vinegar, and chile paste, if using. Season with a big pinch of salt and lots of pepper.
- Spoon the chile oil mixture over the salmon and bake for 15 minutes. Pull out the dish from the oven and use a spoon or pastry brush to scoop up the chile oil accumulated in the bottom and baste the fish a few times.
- Return to the oven and continue baking until the flesh flakes when pulled at with a fork and is cooked to your liking, about another 10 minutes for medium-rare, or 20 minutes for medium to medium-well. (If your fillet is thicker in the center, the edges will cook more quickly.)
- Halve the second lemon. Remove the dish from the oven and use a spoon to gently break up the fish into a few large pieces. Transfer the fish to a serving platter, squeeze half the lemon over the fish, then drizzle over the remaining chile oil from the pan. Slice the remaining lemon half into wedges for serving.