Whole Salt Baked Salmon

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 25 min
  • Prep: 25 min
  • Cook: 1 hr
  • Yield: 12 servings
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1 (eight-pound) whole wild salmon, such as Alaskan king, scaled and cleaned

Maldon sea salt

Freshly ground pepper

1 bunch fennel leaves and stalks, washed

10 to 12 pounds coarse sea salt (or kosher salt)

Salsa Verde, recipe follows


  1. Heat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Season cavity of salmon with Maldon salt and pepper. Fill the cavity with the fennel leaves and stalks.
  3. Fill the bottom of a large roasting or baking pan with a 1/2-inch layer of salt. Place the fish on its side, on top of the salt. Pile the remaining sea salt over the fish, completely covering it by at least 1/2 inch all over. If the head and tail protrude from the pan, place a double layer of heavy-duty aluminum under tail and head to prevent salt from falling into your oven. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons water over the surface of the salt.
  4. Transfer roasting pan to oven, and bake salmon until cooked through, 45 to 60 minutes. To test if the fish is cooked, poke a metal skewer or kitchen fork through the salt and into the fish where the fish is the thickest. Pull the skewer out: If the skewer is warm to the touch, then the salmon is cooked. Transfer pan to a wire rack, and let rest until cool enough to handle.
  5. Using your fingers, break off the salt crust from the top of the fish; the skin should have stuck to the salt and should peel away as you do this. If the skin does not pull away when you remove the salt, use a paring knife to gently lift the skin away from the fillet. Carefully lift the entire fish out of the pan. Peel away any remaining skin and salt stuck to the underside; place the fish on a cutting board.
  6. Cut the fillets off the bones, and serve at room temperature, garnished with Salsa Verde.
  1. Salsa Verde:
  2. 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked
  3. 1 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked
  4. 1 small bunch fresh mint, leaves picked
  5. 1/3 cup salted capers, washed and covered in white-wine vinegar
  6. 6 anchovy fillets, washed and covered in olive oil
  7. 1 heaping teaspoon Dijon mustard
  8. 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  9. 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  10. Freshly ground pepper
  1. Place herbs on cutting board. Using a mezzaluna or large chef's knife, roughly chop herbs. Place in large bowl. Roughly chop capers and anchovies together, and add to bowl with herbs. Add mustard and vinegar. Drizzle in olive oil. Season with pepper. Mix to combine. Serve with salt-baked salmon.
  2. Yield: about 1 1/2 cups