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HOW TO BAKE (AND FREEZE) A PERFECT WHOLE SALMON

This year, I have endeavored to buy whole fresh salmon – enough to have 7 or 8 in the freezer.  Usually, I will buy pink salmon – I somehow missed my favorite salmon this year which is CoHo.

(in the picture above, we love to serve salmon with organic garlic scape pesto which I make every June to fill the freezer until the following June)

This post brings back memories of last year….for a true fish story you can read it here.

One thing I discovered when buying pre-frozen salmon – it will never taste fresh or even very good for that matter.  The reason for this is the way it is packed.  It is placed in two heavy plastic bags, then put into the freezer.  This will cause freezer burn very easily, and you will also loose a ton of flavor.

If you are fortunate enough to buy “flash frozen” that will ultimately be the tastiest salmon.  As I can not do that, we did discover another way.

Our fish always has the head removed.  If the tail is not removed, slice off before freezing.  Once you have your fresh salmon home from the market, wash well under cold water.  Dry very well with paper towel.  The next step is vital:  Wrap the salmon in plastic wrap very tightly – 4 or 5 times.  Then place the salmon into 2 plastic grocery store bags, wrapping tightly, then tape up any loose ends of the bag.  I mark the tape with the date and the weight of the salmon.  For beautiful, fresh tasting salmon, this method has worked each and every time.

Always thaw in the refrigerator – a 3lb. to 3 1/2 lb. salmon will take about 2 days to thaw thoroughly.

Now for baking.  We have always used the standard rule of thumb:  bake 10 minutes per 1 inch of thickness (at the thickest part of the salmon) at 400-425 degrees.  For some reason, this method has failed me this year.  Perhaps I am still adjusting to a relatively new stove/oven….or perhaps my measuring is just off?  It has seemed to take longer to bake than what was pre-determined by the salmon’s thickness.  One time I even over cooked a salmon which is down right sacrilegious in this household!  My family very graciously did not say anything…but the table was sure quiet that night!

So….finally I have found a perfect solution.  We love the flavor of fresh salmon – simple is always best.

Once your salmon is thawed, give it a good rinse and pat dry with paper towel.  Place the salmon onto a large piece of tin foil.  Slice a few lemons to place inside the cavity, and add a few dabs of butter.

We do not even season with salt and pepper….it is such a delicate tasting salmon, it is good enough to season to your liking once served. Wrap very tightly in the tin foil and place onto a baking sheet.

For a 3 lb. salmon or even slightly over 3 lbs.’s bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes.  Once out of the oven, allow to rest still on the baking sheet for 10 minutes.  Open the foil, and you should be able to easily remove the skin with a flipper exposing beautifully, moist cooked salmon.  We have now used this method of baking salmon for the last 3 fish we have eaten…perfect every time!  Of course for bigger salmons you will need to adjust the cooking times depending on the size of your salmon.  For serving 3 people, we have found with a 3 lb. salmon we get a lovely dinner, salmon salad for lunch, and even 1 more salmon dinner.  Such a beautiful, healthy fish…we will be looking forward to these babies in the dead of winter that is for sure!

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