This simple way to roast salmon brings spectacular results with hardly any worry on the cook's part. The Mediterranean cookbook author Paula Wolfert learned it from the French chef Michel Bras, and it rises and falls on the thinness of the sheet pan. A pan of water delivers enough moisture to steam the fish briefly at a low temperature, producing a final product that is soft and deliciously juicy. It adapts easily to almost any salmon fillet. Emily Kaiser Thelin, who includes it in her biography of Ms. Wolfert, "Unforgettable," says a center-cut of wild-caught Alaska king works best and suggests pairing it with a salad or cracked green olive relish.
- Serves: 1 person
- Center-cut salmon fillets, preferably wild-caught Alaskan king or sockeye, 1-inch thick and of any size from 5 ounces to 2 1/2 pounds
- Olive oil, for greasing
- Flaky sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Snipped fresh chives, for garnish (optional)
Step 1Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and a second rack in the upper third. Heat the oven to between 225 and 275 degrees. Grease a thin sheet pan with olive oil.
Step 2Carefully place a frying pan of just-boiled water on the lower oven rack. Arrange the salmon on the prepared sheet pan, season generously with salt and pepper, and place on the upper oven rack. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 110 degrees for rare, 115 degrees for medium-rare, or 125 degrees for medium. This should take 10 to 12 minutes for 5-ounce fillets or 20 to 25 minutes for a 2 1/2-pound fillet. (The color of the salmon will not turn dull, and the texture will be very juicy.)
Step 3Transfer the salmon to a platter or one or more individual plates and season with more salt and pepper, if desired. Sprinkle with chives, if using, and serve.