A whole salmon makes a great centrepiece to a dinner party.
At Christmas it's just right when you are bored with turkey!
This will serve 8 at least, depending on what you serve it with. Try it with new potatoes, a green vegetable (asparagus is good when in season), or a salad.
Heat the oven to 180° or 170° for a fan oven, or gas 4.
Trim the fins and tail (or ask us to do this - there’s a space for "special instructions” when you check out – on the page where you put your address).
Score along the fish at an angle every 3 or 4 cm, not too deeply, just enough to cut through the skin.
You’re going to bake the fish inside a foil envelope, so lay two layers over a large baking dish or tray, large enough to wrap up and seal over the fish in a loose envelope. If you don’t have the extra wide foil join two pieces together, sealed well.
Put a piece of baking paper on the foil, this will stop the fish sticking to the foil.
Then put some herbs (dried will do, we suggest mixed herbs, about a couple of teaspoons), some thick slices of lemon (from two lemons), and about two small wineglasses of white wine onto the paper/foil, then lay the salmon on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bring the foil up and seal, but don’t make a tight parcel, there should be room for the wine to steam the fish.
Put in the oven and bake for 35 -40 minutes, then take out and rest the salmon, still sealed in the foil. There is a fashion to serve salmon barely cooked, so cook for 35 minutes or cook for 40 minutes if you like it really cooked.
This is when you decide whether you want to serve the salmon hot or cold. If cold, leave in the foil to cool, and take the skin off before you serve it (read on to find out how).
If you want to serve the salmon hot, you can serve it as it is, opening the foil at the table. Or slide the cooked salmon off the baking paper onto a large plate or dish (help is useful at this stage!). Arrange some lemon slices and new potatoes around it on the dish, and add something for colour such as watercress.
If you don’t feel confident to do this or don’t want the hassle, do this instead – open up the foil and using a fairly blunt knife like a table knife you can scrape off the skin, this isn’t difficult to do. There is a band of darker flesh along the length of the fish, you can scrape this off as well if you want, using a teaspoon. Then, using the table knife, you can push the two fillets apart along the groove that runs along the fish, and ease the fillets up from the bones. Each fillet will serve three at least. Gently turn the fish over and repeat.
Why cook a whole salmon when you could just order salmon fillets, either whole or in portions? Because sometimes it’s worth the effort because most fish tastes better baked whole on the bone!