We might be crushing on salmon because it is the perfectperfectperfect-sigh-isn’t-it-just-so-wonderful?” fish, gorgeous, versatile across flavors and cuisines, simultaneously luxurious and easy to cook.
Or it might be that we have a crush on a real guy who has picked salmon every time he’s impressed us with his cooking for a date night dinner.
Or it might be both.
We can’t tell. That’s what crushes do to your ability to think straight.
The reality is, salmon has been a stand out on recent trips to the market. We were seduced by the intense orange color of the flesh, but what really sealed the deal for us was the size and thickness (we won’t make that joke here). Big pieces of salmon are easier to handle and cook, especially for more than a few people.
Ina Garten’s Salmon with Fennel is a single, large piece of salmon stuffed with fennel then baked, meant to serve 10-15 people. Her recipe is printed below. We decreased the amounts and modified the technique by cutting the salmon into single servings. We baked the pieces and just served the sauteed fennel and orange alongside each fillet.
Salmon with Fennel and Orange
Ina Garten’s recipe in the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook
Salmon with Fennel and Orange Ingredients:
1 (10 pound) fresh salmon
5 cups sliced yellow onions, 1/4-inch thick (3 pounds)
5 cups sliced fennel bulbs, 1/4-inch thick (3 pounds)
½ cup good olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fennel fronds
1 orange, zested
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Salmon with Fennel and Orange Directions:
Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F.
Saute the onions and fennel in the olive oil for 10 minutes on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Add the thyme leaves, fennel fronds, orange zest, orange juice, salt, and pepper and saute for 5 more minutes, until the onions and fennel are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Lay the salmon, skin side down, on a cutting board and sprinkle both sides generously with salt and pepper. Spread the fennel filling over half of the salmon. Pull the other half up and over the filling, enclosing it. Tie the salmon every 2 inches with kitchen string to secure the stuffing.
Place a sheet pan lined with parchment paper in the oven for 5 minutes to heat it. Carefully transfer the salmon to the hot sheet pan and bake it for exactly 30 minutes (10 minutes for each 1-inch of thickness). Do not overbake!
Allow to cool slightly, then remove the strings. To serve, cut into thick slices with a very sharp knife. This salmon is delicious hot or at room temperature.