This baked whole salmon fillet with citrus and fennel is the perfect meal for a holiday or feeding a crowd. Baking salmon in foil with citrus and fennel keeps it moist, juicy, and very flavorful. This surprisingly easy salmon recipe serves 10 and is ready in under an hour!
1fennel bulbsliced into julienne strips about ¼ inch wide and 3 inches long (about 1 pound)
1small sweet onionsliced into julienne strips about ¼ inch wide and 3 inches long
3medium sized carrotssliced into julienne strips about ¼ inch wide and 3 inches long
1teaspoonplus 1 large pinch kosher saltdivided
2tablespoonsorange zestabout 1 orange
¼cupfresh orange juiceabout 1 orange
½cupdry white winelike Sauvignon Blanc
2 ½tablespoonsfresh thyme leaves
2tablespoonschopped fennel fronds
3 ½poundwhole salmon filletbones removed, skin on is fine (with fairly even thickness to promote even cooking)
Several grinds freshly cracked black pepper
Fennel fronds and orange slices for for garnish
Sauté the fennel, onions, and carrots with olive oil on medium heat for 5 minutes. Season with a large pinch of salt. Stir periodically. Then add the orange zest and juice, wine, thyme, and fennel fronds to sauté pan and stir. Sauté for about 5 minutes more until the liquid significantly reduces and the vegetables start to get tender. Set aside to cool.
Season both sides of the fish with salt and pepper.
To make the foil packet: Take out a half sheet baking pan long enough to accommodate the whole fish. Cut a piece of aluminum foil that is twice the length of the baking sheet, and lay the foil centered on the baking sheet. If your fish is almost as wide as the foil, use an additional piece of foil, and place it on the baking sheet perpendicular to the first piece of foil. You need enough foil to fully enclose the salmon in a foil packet.
Spread half of the cooled vegetable mixture on the foil-lined baking sheet. Lay the fish on top of the vegetables. Cover the fish with the remaining vegetables and juices. Bring up the edges of the foil around the fish, and Seal up the foil packet so that the salmon is enclosed fairly tightly. Refrigerate the fish until ready to cook.
20 minutes before cooking time, take the fish out of the refrigerator, and let it sit out so it isn't so cold. Place an oven rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Cook the salmon until the dark orange, opaque flesh turns solid, light orange. Check your fish early for doneness just in case so it not overcooked. Cooking time will be about 18-25 minutes, depending on the thickness of your fish. Peel back the foil and use a fork to peek into the thickest part of the fish. Cover up where you peeked with sautéed vegetables when serving, and no one will ever know.
Or use an instant-read thermometer in the center of the thickest part of the fish. Cook to an internal temperature of 125 to 130 degrees F for medium-rare or 135 to 140 degrees F for medium doneness. Remove the fish from the baking sheet, and let rest for 5 minutes. The fish will likely continue cooking about 5 degrees more once out of the oven, so take out just before the desired final temperature.
Spread several fennel fronds as garnish on a large serving platter or attractive wood board. Slide the whole fish onto the platter with a large spatula, and spoon all the vegetables and juices over the top. Decorate with with sliced oranges if desired. Serve immediately, or the fish will "hold" for about a half hour.
The FDA recommends cooking fish until 145 degrees F, but that will likely be very firm and dry. I prefer to cook to 125 to 130 degrees F for medium-rare or 135 to 140 degrees F for medium.
If you should be lucky enough to have any leftover salmon, serve the salmon cold in a sandwich made with fresh brioche bread and topped with the cooked veggies and sliced avocado. I must say that eating this sandwich made me feel like I was dining in a fancy French bistro. I savored every bite.