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The following is a sample recipe from the cookbook, Wildwood: Cooking from the Source in the Pacific Northwest.

Herbed Salmon Baked on Rock Salt
with Red Onion-Caper Vinaigrette

Serves 8

When a salmon fillet is properly cooked, you’ll find that it flakes off of the skin with relative ease. Baking the fish on rock salt tempers and distributes the heat, resulting in moist, evenly cooked flesh. The red onion-caper vinaigrette adds a light, yet pungent flavor to the salmon. Any leftover fish can be flaked into salads, soups, or made into salmon cakes.

Red Onion-Caper Vinaigrette
1 c olive oil
1/4 c sherry vinegar
1 ts Dijon mustard
1 red onion, thinly sliced
2 ts capers, drained
1 ts chopped fresh basil
1 ts salt
3/4 ts freshly ground black pepper

4 lb salmon fillet, pin bones removed, with skin intact
2 TB mixed minced fresh herbs such as tarragon, basil,
   flat-leaf parsley, and thyme
2 TB fennel seeds, cracked
1 ts salt
1/2 ts freshly ground black pepper
Rock or kosher salt for lining pan

 

To prepare the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, and mustard. Stir in remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. The vinaigrette can be made up to 2 days ahead.

To prepare the salmon: Rub the fillet with herbs and fennel seeds. Season with salt and pepper. At this point, the salmon can be covered and refrigerated overnight.

Preheat the oven to 325°. Cover a large jellyroll or roasting pan with foil. Pour the rock or kosher salt into the pan, covering its surface. Place the salmon, skin side down, on the salt. Bake in the oven for 35 - 45 minutes, or until opaque on the outside and slightly translucent in the center. This method of cooking allows the salmon to cook through without becoming dry. Remove from the oven, cover loosely with foil, and let stand for 5 minutes (the salmon will continue to cook).

To serve, use a wide spatula to remove the salmon from the salt. Remove the skin and portion the salmon onto plates. Spoon some of the red onion-caper vinaigrette over each portion and serve.

Chef’s Note: Though the salt on which the salmon is baked will absorb juices from the fish, there’s no reason to throw it out. Instead, set it aside for the next time you prepare this dish, or one similar.


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