A Beginner’s Guide to Cooking Whole Salmon
Cooking whole salmon may seem like a daunting task at first, but if handled properly and in a systematic fashion even a novice cook may tackle this job with little trouble. Be it for health reasons or a desire to impress the in-laws, salmon is quickly becoming a favorite addition to many table spreads across the world.
Benefits of Cooking Whole Salmon
It is no big secret that salmon is considered a wonder food in many circles. It is rich in Omega-3 and helps to lower the risks of developing Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration, and coronary and stroke related deaths. Because it is also naturally low in mercury and high in calcium, salmon is one of the few types of fish that is recommended for pregnant women to consume.
Similar to the culinary benefits of cooking a whole chicken or bone-in beef, cooking a whole salmon enhances the natural flavors and juice content of the fish. Fish can dry out easily if not prepared perfectly, and cooking the fish with the bone allows a little room for error as well.
Choosing the Right Salmon
Choosing the right fish is absolutely crucial to ensuring that you and your guests will enjoy a great tasting meal that is also nutritionally sound. Ideally, you should buy fresh, wild salmon. Try to avoid purchasing salmon that is farm-raised if at all possible. If farm-raised salmon is unavoidable, then it is important to find the highest quality and freshest fish available.
There is a very simple and easy to follow rule for choosing fresh fish. Basically, if it smells like fish, it’s not fresh. Many people look for eyeball clarity, but this is not a reliable sign of freshness. Speak to your butcher, fish monger, etc and request the freshest salmon they have to offer. If they take pride in their product they will be more than happy to show off their wares.
What Constitutes a Whole Salmon?
Many people get queasy when they think about eating a whole fish, but they don’t realize that eating whole fish is very similar to eating a whole chicken or turkey. They innards are removed, as are the scales, fins, and gills, much like a chicken is plucked in preparation for cooking. Although some people choose to leave the head on, this is not recommended for salmon, as the head can bring a bitter taste to the fish.
Depending on where you purchase your fish, your butcher or fish monger may clean and prepare the salmon for you by removing these parts. If not, they may offer you advice on scaling the fish and removing the gills. If you’re completely on your own, there are several guides online that show you how to properly remove these parts. If the thought of having to scale the salmon worries you, then you will be happy to hear that the scales are located on top of the skin which is easily removed during the cooking process if needs be.
A Quick and Easy Recipe for Cooking Whole Salmon
The following is an easy-to-follow, zesty salmon recipe that is sure to leave a lasting impression on your friends and family.
1 whole salmon (cleaned, beheaded, scaled if possible)
6 chopped green onions
5 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/3 C of dry, white wine
10 whole black peppercorns
Very thin cucumber slices
What to Do :
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Take a large baking sheet and place two sheets of aluminum foil on top of one another on the sheet. Place the salmon on the foil. Sprinkle half of the onions and half of the lemon juice inside of the salmon (the belly will be sliced during the cleaning process). Drizzle the rest of the juice on top of the salmon. Drizzle the oil on top of this. Pour on the wine, and sprinkle with the peppercorns. Sprinkle the rest of the onions around the salmon.
Bring the foil up around the salmon, sealing it tightly but leaving airspace between the foil and the fish. Bake for 1 hour on center rack. Remove from oven. Let it cool for an hour, then reseal and refrigerate for 4 hours or until cold. Remove skin and any graying areas from the salmon. Transfer to a large fish platter and garnish.
This recipe can also be enjoyed hot, and the leftovers can be chopped up and put in a salad or made into a delicious sandwich spread.