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Perfect salmon requires hot oven

  • This Jan. 24, 2017, photo provided by America's Test Kitchen shows Salmon with Almond Vinaigrette in Brookline, Mass. This recipe appears in “Cooking at Home with Bridget & Julia.” (Daniel J. van Ackere/America's Test Kitchen via AP) Daniel J. van Ackere

  • This undated photo provided by America's Test Kitchen shows the cookbook “Cooking at Home with Bridget & Julia.” (America's Test Kitchen via AP)



America’s Test Kitchen
Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The key to perfectly roasted salmon is to preheat a baking sheet in a very hot oven, then lay the fish on the hot pan and reduce the oven to a gentle 275 degrees to cook.

The initial blast of high heat firms the exterior of the salmon and helps to render some of the excess fat. The fish then gently cooks as the oven temperature slowly drops, keeping the meat moist and succulent.

To help the fat render, we cut several slits in the skin. For evenly cooked salmon, be sure to cut the pieces the same size; America’s Test Kitchen found it easiest to buy a large piece of salmon and cut the fillets ourselves.

Oven-roasted Salmon with Almond Vinaigrette

Toasted Almonds

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups skin-on raw almonds

1 teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Almond Vinaigrette

½ cup toasted almonds

1 shallot, minced

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

4 teaspoons honey

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons water, plus extra as needed

2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon

Salt and pepper

Salmon

2 (2-pound) skin-on salmon fillets, about 1½ inches thick

4 teaspoons olive oil

Salt and pepper

To toast the almonds: Heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until just simmering. Add 2 cups skin-on raw almonds, 1 teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper (if desired). Toast the almonds over medium-low heat, stirring often, until fragrant and the color deepens slightly, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and allow them to cool before serving.)

For the almond vinaigrette: Place almonds in zipper-lock bag and pound with rolling pin until coarsely crushed. Whisk crushed almonds, shallot, vinegar, honey, and mustard in medium bowl. Whisking constantly, drizzle in olive oil. Whisk in water and tarragon and season with salt and pepper to taste. (Makes 1½ cups.)

For the salmon: Use sharp knife to remove any whitish fat from belly of salmon and cut each fillet into four equal pieces. Using sharp (or serrated) knife, cut four shallow slashes, about 1 inch apart, through skin of each fillet (do not cut into flesh). Pat salmon dry with paper towels and rub with oil. (Prepped salmon can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours before cooking.)

Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Season salmon with salt and pepper. Reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees and remove hot baking sheet. Carefully lay salmon, skin side down, on hot sheet. Roast until center is still translucent when checked with tip of paring knife and registers 125 degrees for medium-rare, 9 to 13 minutes.

Transfer fillets to individual plates or platter, spoon vinaigrette over top, and serve.