Salmon Roasted in Butter

  • By Mark Bittman (From The New York Times online)

    Download a pdf of this recipe

    Although farmed salmon is available all year, wild salmon does have a season, and that season is now. The wild fish from the Pacific has so much flavor that it needs little more than a sprinkling of salt. But the addition of oil or butter and a single herb, combined with a near-foolproof roasting technique, gives many more options.

    Be sure to preheat the butter or oil, along with a little bit of the herb, in a roasting pan in a hot oven. This preheating causes the fish to sizzle the instant it’s set into the pan, so that it browns before it overcooks. If you start the fillet in a cold pan, it will simply turn a dull pink and will not brown until it is as dry as chalk.

    Prep time:
    15 minutes.



    • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
    • 4 tablespoons minced chervil, parsley or dill
    • 1 salmon fillet, 1 1/2 to 2 pounds
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
    • Lemon wedges


    • 1. Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place the butter
      and half the herb in a roasting pan just large enough
      to fit the salmon and place it in the oven. Heat about
      5 minutes, until the butter melts and the herb begins
      to sizzle.
    • 2. Add the salmon to the pan, skin side up. Roast
      4 minutes. Remove from the oven, then peel the skin
      off. (If the skin does not lift right off, cook 2 minutes
      longer.) Sprinkle with salt and pepper and turn the
      fillet over. Sprinkle with salt and pepper again.
    • 3. Roast 3 to 5 minutes more, depending on the
      thickness of the fillet and the degree of doneness
      you prefer. Cut into serving portions, spoon a little
      of the butter over each and garnish with the
      remaining herb. Serve with lemon wedges.


    • The basic recipe can easily be varied. An equal
      quantity of extra virgin olive oil can be substituted
      for the butter, and 2 teaspoons basil or thyme leaves
      or 2 tablespoons marjoram leaves for the dill,
      chervil or parsley. Or peanut oil can be substituted
      for the butter (with a teaspoon of dark sesame oil
      for flavor if you like) and cilantro or mint for the
      dill, chervil or parsley; with this version, use lime
      instead of lemon.