Creativ Studio Heinemann

A simple and elegant preparation is all this fish needs.

By Micah A. Leal

Venturing out to sea only to return to the rivers from which they came, salmon are unlike any other fish. Because a salmon’s entire life is spent preparing for a difficult swim upstream, the strong muscles and energy stores in its body give the meat a unique taste. Its oily pink flesh gives way to a subtle buttery and nutty flavor that makes it palatable to even the pickiest of fish eaters—making salmon a perfect main dish for a dinner with guests.

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A simple baked preparation is all that’s needed to showcase the incredible quality of the fish (while also impressing those around your table). However, due to the distinct characteristics of its flesh, there are a few tips to ensure that the fish does not become tough and dry. Since the flavor of salmon is rich and buttery, it benefits most from a long, slow bake that allows the complexities of the fish to meld with the other ingredients.

Baking salmon in enclosed packets of parchment paper tied together with kitchen twine forces the moisture in the lemon and herbs to infuse the flesh of the fish rather than dissipating into the oven, making for a delicious and balanced bite of moist buttery fish with a hint of fresh brightness. Salmon is best when baked with another fatty element (like melted butter or olive oil), lemon, and a tender herb (like dill, parsley, or cilantro).

Prepare the Fillets

Preheat oven to 275°F. Season all sides of the salmon filet with salt and allow to rest while you prepare the other ingredients.

Prepare the Packets

Cut out a large piece of parchment paper for each filet of salmon. Slice your lemons so they’re in 1/4-inch-thick rounds. Place a layer of lemon slices in the center of each piece of parchment paper, and put a few sprigs of your fresh herb of choice on top of the lemon slices. Brush the filets with either melted butter or olive oil, and place one filet on top of each mound of lemon and herbs. Bring each corner of the parchment paper to the center of the filet and tie together with kitchen twine to create a tightly wrapped packet.

Bake the Fish

Place the packet on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake in preheated oven for 22 minutes. Remove from oven and allow the packets to rest for 2 minutes. Remove fish from packets and top with more fresh herbs and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.