Rather than do the hard work yourself, get the fishmonger to gut and clean the fish for you, ready for you to cook. Many fishmongers and supermarkets will loan you fish kettles, as long as you purchase the fish from them! Alternatively, you can use a large baking or roasting tin and the trusty kitchen foil which you should always have!
Assuming you are using a fish kettle, follow these easy steps:
- Slice up several lemons into rings. Pick out the herbs of your choice (perhaps dill, parsley or chives, even tarragon, but that can be a little overwhelming) and fill the cavity with both the lemons and the herbs and any seasoning such as salt and pepper.
- Half fill the fish kettle with water and add enough salt to make it similar to a light sea water.
- Lower the fish on to the rack provided, adding more water to cover if necessary. Add two bay leaves, handful of peppercorns and some sliced lemons.
- Place on your hob and bring the pan slowly to the boil. Let it bubble hard for 20 seconds, then turn off the heat and put the lid on. You may need to put the kettle safely over 2 rings depending on your cooker and whether you have a griddle section on it.
- Leave to cool, then lift out of the water to drain.
- When cool enough to handle, remove all skin and the ‘grey-brown’ outer flesh, as this does not look attractive.
- Decorate with slices of overlapping lemon, some tiny rosettes of parsley and pipe on some mayonnaise in between the lemons and parsley. Alternatively, use cucumber rings to garnish. If required, use an aspic glaze over the top.
If you have particularly large fish, it is good to use a roasting tin. You can also cut the fish in half if you prefer, and then just cleverly disguise the join when it comes to decorating.
- Preheat the oven to 140°C/275°F/Gas mark 1.
- Season the fish with salt and pepper inside and out, and stuff the cavity with lemon slices.
- Oil a sheet of good quality foil twice the length of your salmon. Wrap the salmon in it, sealing the edges tightly and making sure there are no tears or gaps.
- Lay the fish on your largest baking sheet and bake for two hours (for a 9lb/4kg fish).
- Leave to cool in the foil parcel.
- Decorate as above by placing the two pieces of cut fish back together and covering the seam!
Luscious Lemon Caper Dressing
If you serve this with the salmon, everyone will love it! This dressing will serve 8-10 people.
- As far as possible, this dressing should be made just shortly before serving, otherwise the parsley will discolour (lemons will change the colour of many green foods).
- Whisk all the ingredients together and place in a small jug or something like a gravy boat to serve. Guests can help themselves.