Christopher Nicolson, of Iliamna Fish Co., was raised in a fishing community just like generations of his family before him. I had the opportunity to sit down with Christopher and chat about fishing and his favorite ways to eat smoked salmon.
Of the various ways salmon can be cooked, this one is simple and strikingly good. The salmon is baked in a very slow, humidified oven, which yields a moist, tender, velvet-textured fish. When it is served at room temperature with fennel and fava beans, or tomatoes and green beans, or beets and garden lettuces, we find it has versatility and appeal the entire season. And since it holds well for a few hours, it’s also perfect for a picnic or buffet.
Serves 6 to 8.
1 salmon fillet, about 3 pounds
Extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 large shallot, diced fine
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or lemon juice
1 large Meyer lemon
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped chervil or chives
PREHEAT the oven to 200°E Place a pan of warm water on the lowest rack in the oven. This creates a humid environment that helps keep the salmon moist.
Lightly brush a baking pan with olive oil. Brush the salmon with olive oil and season generously with salt and freshly ground pepper. Place the salmon in the baking dish and put it in the oven. Allow about i hour for the salmon to cook through. If it seems to be cooking too fast, turn the oven down a bit. The salmon is cooked when it is just barely firm to the touch and juices are beginning to collect on top of the fillet. Let it rest at least 10 minutes, or up to 3 hours, at room temperature.
Meanwhile, get to work on the Meyer Lemon Relish. Put the diced shallot in a small bowl. Add the vinegar and a pinch of salt. Macerate for 10 to 15 minutes. Cut the lemon into 8 wedges. Remove the seeds and central core from each piece, then cut each wedge in half lengthwise. Slice the wedges crosswise into thin slivers. You will have about ½ cup. Combine the slivered lemon and shallot and add a little more salt. Stir in the olive oil, parsley, chervil, and some freshly milled pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
To serve, break Salmon into rough pieces, surround with summer vegetable salads, and accompany with Meyer Lemon Relish.