One of my children has always loathed fish, so we don’t eat it often. The moaning and wailing from my child whenever fish appeared on our dinner table was enough to put me off fish forever. But that child is in college now, so fish has found its way back onto our menu.
Salmon is the one of the easiest fish to cook. Wild-caught salmon is available year-round in the frozen food section. Make sure it’s wild-caught. Farmed salmon is, well, yucky. It gets its orange color from dye, and its diet is dismal. I only buy wild-caught salmon, preferably from Alaska.
Salmon will taste better if you marinate it for 30 minutes to 2 hours ahead of cooking. The fish will absorb the flavor of the marinade and will be less dry. I often cook the salmon in the marinade, or you can cook it in a separate pan to create a thicker sauce.
Orange and sage is a sweet, savory combination that works well with salmon. It doesn’t overpower the fish. This marinade couldn’t be simpler: orange juice, minced sage, olive oil and a pinch of salt. If you don’t have fresh sage at hand, substitute dried sage.
Should you be pressed for time, skip marinating the salmon. Rinse it in water, pat dry, place it on a roasting pan, drizzle olive oil and orange juice over it, spritz it with a pinch of salt and dribble a tablespoon of minced fresh sage (or a teaspoon of dried) on top. Bake salmon at 400 degrees F for 7 minutes per inch of thickness.
If your fillets are of different thicknesses, cut them up into pieces of the same thickness. Otherwise the thinner edges of the fillets will get dry and chewy while you’re waiting for the middle to cook. Remove the thinner pieces from the oven when they’re done. They’ll stay warm for the 3-4 minutes it takes to cook the rest of the fish.
Watch carefully during the final minutes of cooking. Even 30 seconds of overcooking can mean the difference between perfection and tough, unappetizing fish. Salmon is slightly forgiving, but not generously so. Keep an eye on it.
Orange Sage Baked Salmon
Fresh or frozen, wild-caught salmon marinated in orange juice and sage, is a quick, delicious main course.
- 3/4-1 pound wild-caught salmon
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh sage (or 1 teaspoon dried)
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
- 1/8 teaspoon starch (corn, arrowroot, potato or tapioca, optional)
At least 30 minutes (or up to 2 hours) before cooking, remove the salmon from the fridge, rinse it in water and pat it dry.
Cut the salmon into pieces of similar thickness, if needed.
In a glass container or baking dish just large enough to hold the salmon in a single layer, whisk together the minced sage, orange juice, olive oil and salt.
Place the salmon into the marinade, cover and refrigerate.
When you're ready to cook, remove the salmon from the fridge and let it come to room temperature, about 8-10 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
When the oven is hot, place the salmon in a baking dish.
Spoon a few tablespoons of marinade over the salmon or cook the marinade in the same pan with the salmon. If you cook the marinade in the pan with the salmon, add a few extra minutes to the cooking time. See NOTE
Bake the salmon, uncovered, for 7 minutes per inch of thickness.
Watch very carefully during the last few minutes of cooking. Remove thinner pieces of salmon when they're done, and keep them warm.
Spoon the cooked marinade over the salmon and serve immediately.
For a thicker sauce, pour off the marinade into a small saucepan, then whisk in 1/8 teaspoon starch (corn, potato, arrowroot, tapioca). Bring the marinade to a boil over medium-high heat. Turn the heat down, and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes, until it's reduced by half. Pour over the salmon before serving.
Fresh sage is available in the produce section of most supermarkets. Use dried if you can’t find fresh.
You’ll need about a tablespoon of minced fresh sage or a teaspoon of dried sage.
In a bowl large enough to hold the salmon, stir the minced sage together with orange juice, olive oil and salt, then immerse the salmon in it.
Cover and allow the salmon to marinate in the fridge for at least half an hour.
When ready to cook, put the salmon into a roasting pan and pour the marinade over it. Bake at 400 degrees F for 7 minutes per inch of thickness. If you cook the salmon with the sauce, it may need an extra minute or two of cooking time.
Watch carefully during the last few minutes of cooking. It’s easy to overcook salmon. The fish is firm, but tender when it’s done.
To make a thicker sauce while the salmon is cooking, pour the marinade into a small saucepan. Whisk in 1/8 teaspoon starch (corn, arrowroot, potato or tapioca).
Bring the marinade to a boil.
Turn down the heat and simmer until reduced by half.
Pour sauce over the salmon and serve immediately.