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Slow-roasted Lemon Dill Salmon with Asparagus

Roasting at a low temperature keeps this salmon filet moist and delicious, with tangy lemon and dill for flavor. Serves four for under $15, with tender asparagus and a side of rice.

This juicy salmon is a showstopper at the table, but only you know it was ready in 30 minutes, cost under $15, and clean-up was a breeze with only one pan.

Wild salmon, such as sockeye, is much leaner than farm-raised Atlantic Salmon and the filets are often thinner. This can lead to overcooking, but the slow-roasting method prevents this and keeps salmon juicy and tender.

There is nothing that looks more elegant and pleases more people than a well-cooked side of salmon. But overcooking salmon is easy, particularly wild salmon, which is much leaner and easier to overcook than farm-raised salmon.

The Salmon

In selecting what salmon to use, remember that wild-caught salmon has a stronger flavor and is much leaner. Look for sockeye salmon or King salmon if you like wild-caught flavor. If you like a milder flavor richer with more fat, go for Atlantic salmon--all this type of salmon is currently farmed. Look for a competitive price; many are out there to be had. Wild Fork Foods sells half of a small sockeye salmon for $10. Aldi sells Atlantic salmon for $9/pound, and you can find similar buys at Sprouts. If you don't mind buying a larger amount and freezing portions, Sam's Club and Costco sell nice Atlantic salmon.

While you can always find a decent price for frozen salmon that has been portioned into 4–6-ounce filets, try to find a larger piece of fish for this recipe. It is far easier to avoid overcooking a larger piece of fish.

A word about albumin--that white substance that "bleeds" out of salmon when you expose it to hot temperatures. If you see it and are cooking farmed salmon, you must reduce the heat. However, you often see it in a wild-caught salmon, even if you keep the heat below 275 in the oven. Don't panic--keep the temperature low and brush the salmon with butter and lemon juice with a pastry brush when it reaches 120 degrees. Periodically clean the brush with a paper towel, removing the albumin. It's just another quirk of wild-caught fish that this substance is more prevalent.

To Skin or Not to Skin

The salmon used in this recipe may either be skinless or with skin. I always bake my salmon with the skin on, even if I will dispose of it because it isn't sauteed until crispy. (Oven-roasted salmon always has soft skin that will slide right off once cooked.) Keeping the skin on during roasting enhances the flavor, and it's easy to dispose of the skin after cooking. If you find good skinless salmon, buy it. If you find good salmon with the skin, buy it, cook it with the skin on, and remove it before serving. Pick a great piece of fish--the skin, or lack thereof, doesn't matter.

Other Ingredients

To make this recipe, you will need good-quality olive oil, a lemon, some fresh dill, and a bunch of asparagus. Yes, the Aldi asparagus looks a little anemic--not quite in season yet here in Florida. If you don't like asparagus, consider serving it with green beans, but make sure they are the smaller variety so they cook in a low oven within 25 minutes.

Oven Roasting

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees and place a rack in the center of the oven. Put your sheet pan in, uncovered, and bake for 20 minutes. Check the salmon for doneness: wild salmon should be at 120 degrees internally, and farm-raised salmon should be at 125. Depending on how thick it is, this will take 20-25 minutes for a 1-pound piece of salmon. If you have a particularly thin or small piece of salmon, start checking it at 15 minutes. A large half portion of salmon weighing 2 pounds might take up to 40 minutes.

Once your salmon is at 120-125 degrees, remove it from the oven and let it rest. You can always put the vegetables back in for a bit if they are not tender. Your salmon should look like this:

Let your salmon rest briefly, then take a large spatula and loosen the salmon from the foil. If your salmon has skin, you can separate the skin and the filet at this point easily with your spatula. Move to a nice platter--present it whole, and the family will be impressed!

Serve your salmon with lemon rice and lemon wedges. I like to offer a bowl of whole milk yogurt or sour cream to top this dish. Clean-up is done if you throw away the foil and rinse the baking sheet. Now you can enjoy a great dinner with your friends or family--serve this meal with a nice dry white wine or a Pinot Noir. Because Julia always told you what kind of wine to serve on The French Chef. Bon Appetit!

Slow Roasted Lemon Dill Salmon with Asparagus (Cost was $13.80)

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