I was 18 when Salmon Fever hit my family. We started having the fish in myriad forms a few dinners a week – there was grilled salmon, poached salmon, salmon curries, salmon steaks….as many as my mother’s inspiration allowed. Due to its nutritional value (convincing my mother that this was the solution to counter-balance the cholesterol in our diet), and also due to the hard-working marketing efforts of salmon importers in Singapore, the oily pink fish became a regular fixture at the dinner table overnight, taking its place alongside herbal soups and stir-frys. Alongside my new-found love for salmon sashimi, I welcomed each new dish with delight as a refreshing alternative to the standard fare of sea bass, pomfret and snapper that I grew up with. We would buy it in its entirety, all chopped up and ready for one of my mother’s concoctions, our very own supply of Omega-3, safely stashed in the freezer to last us till the end of time, or so it seemed. As with any over-indulgence, the excitement took its course and gradually turned into weariness. Soon enough, the fever abated as quickly as it arrived, and while still had an occasional meal of salmon every other week, it was no longer as intense.
Of all the salmon variations that we had in the height of Salmon Fever, this version remains as my favorite as it well and truly places the fillet in the gourmet spotlight. It’s also pretty flexible, allowing you to tweak the quantities of each ingredient and cooking time depending on your tastes. We like our salmon to be done just so, enough for its juices to start running, yet preserving the custard-like texture of its barely cooked center. With the simplicity of this dish, its success hinges upon the freshness of the fish so be sure to get yours from a trusted fishmonger. We buy our salmon (and other seafood) from the good people at Mission Fresh Fish who are a regular fixture at the Farmer’s Market we go to.
Oven-baked Salmon for two
Salmon filet, 0.75lbs (I’d recommend using King or Atlantic salmon as they yield flesh that is more tender and juicy than the sockeye variety)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon of mixed French or Italian herbs
A handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper
Pre-heat oven to 450F/220C.
Wash and pat dry the fish, then score the flesh in a criss-cross fashion, leaving half-inch gaps between each incision. This is to ensure that the fish cooks evenly.
Rub salt and pepper into the flesh and skin and place fish in an oven-proof baking dish.
Sprinkle garlic and herbs over the fillet, followed by a drizzle of olive oil and place in the oven.
Bake for at least 10 minutes, slightly longer if you have a bigger fillet or if you prefer your salmon to be fully cooked.
Garnish with parsley and lemon juice and serve with a side salad.