Salmon has a reputation to live up to, and you can do your part by not trying to complicate matters for this blissfully low-maintenance fish. This said, if you want to cook a salmon fillet in a conventional oven, it always helps to keep the salmon moist while it bakes, beyond the traditional splash of lemon juice and butter. Salmon makes an especially eager companion for a French-style cream that will keep its reputation intact and greatly enhance yours at the same time.
Things You'll Need
- ½-inch thick salmon fillets
- Baking dish
- Nonfat cooking spray
- Aluminum foil
- Crème fraiche
- Parsley flakes
- Meat thermometer
Soak the salmon fillets in a bowl of milk for about 30 minutes, then rinse them under the faucet and pat them dry. This step achieves two goals: it cleanses the salmon of its notoriously “fishy” aroma and provides a sweet and clean palette for the cream as you bake it.
Preheat your oven at between 400 and 450 degrees Fahrenheit, erring on the lower end of the temperature range if you’ve never cooked salmon in a conventional oven before or if your oven is a bit erratic. Salmon cooks quickly, and it’s always better to slightly undercook salmon than to dry it out.
Spray a baking dish with nonfat cooking spray or cover a sprayed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the fillets in the dish or on the sheet, being sure not to overcrowd them. Sprinkle the fillets with salt and pepper.
Top the fillets with crème fraiche, which is similar to sour cream but without the bitter aftertaste. Grocers stock this French cream.
Sprinkle the fish with dried parsley flakes. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil to keep the salmon moist.
Bake the salmon for about six minutes. Remove the baking dish from the oven and test the salmon with a meat thermometer. Fish should reach a temperature of 145 degrees F. It also should be white, firm and flaky.
Tips & Warnings
- It's less expensive to make your own crème fraiche, but you need to plan ahead if you want to use it to cook your salmon. Combine 2 cups of heavy cream with 2 tablespoons of buttermilk in a bowl and cover it. After sitting out at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours, the cream will rise and thicken and be ready to top the salmon.
- Serve the salmon fillets with baked red potatoes, and dip the potatoes into the crème fraiche.
- Store leftover crème fraiche in the refrigerator.
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