By gently heating fish submerged in oil or water, and checking the core temperature with an instant-read thermometer, you can avoid overcooking the fish. Instead, the result is silky and moist. The fish should be sashimi-grade; if it isn't, you'd do well to cook the fish until the core temperature is 130 degrees.
Olive oil adds a lovely, fresh grassy flavor to the fish as it seeps into every crack. If you do not want to use expensive olive oil, you can use a neutral cooking oil, such as sunflower oil; just add a little more of the herb to compensate for the lack of flavor. You can also use lightly salted water, preferably flavored with fresh herbs and perhaps some spices, such as allspice, bay leaf and clove.
Cooking will be easier if you use a digital thermometer with a cord and internal probe, so you can leave the probe in the fish. Otherwise you will have to take the fish out to read the temperature at regular intervals.
Serve with wild rice and sauteed vegetables.
- Two 8-ounce skin-on salmon fillets
- 1/2 to 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1 sprig sage or rosemary
- 1-inch piece lemon peel (little or no pith)
- Olive oil (enough to submerge the fish; about 2 3/4 cups)
- Freshly grated lemon zest and freshly squeezed lemon juice, for serving
- Flaky sea salt, for serving
Rinse the fillets in cold water, pat dry. Sprinkle with fine salt. Arrange skin side down either on top of each other or side by side in a small ovenproof pot or deep dish.
Bruise the herb to release its flavor, then place it next to the fish. Twist the lemon peel to release its oils (as you might do over a cocktail), then add to the pot. Cover with the oil, making sure the fish is completely submerged.
Transfer to the oven. Insert the digital thermometer probe in the fish. Set the oven temperature at 325 degrees. Set the thermometer to sound off when the core temperature of the fish reaches 115 degrees; this could take 10 to 12 minutes. (Carry-over cooking may bring the temperature up a few more degrees; that is okay.)
Use a slotted spatula to transfer the fish to individual plates. Discard the oil.
Just before serving, sprinkle each portion with a little lemon juice and zest, plus a little flaky salt.
Adapted from Jeff Potter's "Cooking for Geeks" (O'Reilly, 2010), by Gastronomer columnist Andreas Viestad.
Tested by Nicole Schofer.
Email questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.