Now that I rarely cater private parties or wedding receptions, I don't get to bake a whole salmon too often. But this is the prettiest and tastiest way to serve salmon for a large party. The baked meat is so tender and moist. And of course, the way the fish is presented, it makes a great party conversation piece!
I always order my fish "whole, with head on, gutted and scaled". The whole fish can weigh 10 to 15 pounds. This feeds about 35-50 people at a buffet dinner when served with another meat. My friends at Matthew's Seafood knows their fish! I always get the freshest salmon from them. Rinse the gills and inside the gut very well with cold, running water.
Lay a large sheet of HEAVY DUTY foil on a largest cookie sheet you own with at least 1 inch rim. Ensure that this cookie or jelly roll pan will fit in your oven. Do not use thin foil sheet because it will tear when edges are crimped. Width should be 18 inches and the length should be about 2 1/2 to 3 feet long.
This step is very important: Lay the fish on it's cut tummy, take the sides and firmly fold down the flaps so the fish will stand. At times, you may need to cut one inch near the gill so the fish will have a firm base. If you don't have a good base and the fish will fall to its side during baking, you will have a funny looking, reclining salmon. Not funny!
Make a simple bouqet garni ( any fresh herbs of your choice will do) and stuff in the cavity of the fish. Sprinkle sliced shallots and 1 tablespoon of dried herbes de provence.
Take three pieces of oiled parchment paper to fit the head, dorsal fin, and tail and loosely cover.
Take a second sheet of 18"x 3 feet heavy duty foil sheet and cover. Bring the bottom sheet and top sheet together. ***If your fish is larger than the cookie/jelly roll pan, gently curve the fish, making into a large "C".
Another important step: Beginning from the bent side, or back side of fish, triple fold the edges and tightly crimp. Bring the folded edge up, which will prevent any leakage of liquid you will add. Crimp the edges most of the way, but leaving a small opening for adding liquid.Bring the bottom foil sheet up so wine won't escape during pouring, then add one 750ml bottle of dry white wine and 3 cups of water. Crimp the remaining edge tightly, being careful not to puncture any holes.
Bake in preheated oven (350 degrees F). 9 minutes for every pound of fish. So if you have a 10 pounder, you will bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Be careful of any hot liquid leaking when you take the fish out of the oven. Let stand on counter for a few minutes, then gently uncover and let steam escapes. When liquid is somewhat cooled, tilt the pan and drain the wine/water into the sink. Cool fish completely, then cover tightly with plastic sheet and refrigerate overnight.
Next Post : How to decorate! Stay tuned.
To bake a whole salmon you will need:
1 whole salmon, gutted, scaled with head intact
1 bottle of dry white wine (750ml)
Bouquet garni, mixture of parsley, basil, bay leaves, thyme or any fresh herbs of your choice
1 tablespoon of herbes de provence
Heavy duty foil