Salt-Baked Salmon with Blood Orange, Turmeric, and Thyme
This recipe is adapted from “A Year of Everyday Cooking & Baking 365” by Meike Peters, Prestel Publishing ($40).
Pinot Noir’s light red, fruity flavor serves as a perfect counterpart to salmon's strong flavor. Bonterra 2016 Pinot Noir ($17) has aromas of strawberry and raspberry, with notes of oak spice and vanilla that bring out the savory flavors in this dish.
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a medium baking dish with parchment paper.
For the salt crust
21⁄4 pounds flaky sea salt
3⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄4 cup cornstarch
2 large egg whites
About 1/3 cup water, cold
Combine the salt, flour, cornstarch, egg whites, and cold water in a large bowl and use your fingers or a tablespoon to quickly mix until combined. Spread a thin layer of the salt mixture, roughly the size of 1 salmon fillet, in the middle of the lined baking dish.
For the salmon
1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed with a mortar and pestle or coarsely ground
1⁄2 tsp ground turmeric
2 (10-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets
2 small blood oranges (or other orange variety), thinly sliced
1 small bunch fresh thyme
Ovenproof cotton string
Whisk together the crushed black peppercorns and turmeric and rub the mixture into the pink side of each salmon fillet then spread the blood orange slices, slightly overlapping, on top. Arrange the thyme on top of 1 salmon fillet and top with the second fillet, so that the skin side of each fillet is on the outside. Tie the salmon fillets together with ovenproof cotton string and arrange on top of the salt mixture in the baking dish. Using your fingers, gently pack the remaining salt mixture over and around the salmon until it’s covered. If the salt mixture is too dry, add a little more water. The salt may slide down a little and have some cracks, but that’s fine—just try to seal the fish inside the crust as much as possible. Bake for 55 minutes or until a metal skewer, poked through the crust into the thickest part of the salmon, is warm to the touch when you pull it out of the salmon.
Let the salt crust cool for 2 minutes then carefully break it open with a sharp bread knife. Scrape the salt off the salmon, divide the fillets and orange slices among plates, and serve immediately.
Yield: 2 to 3 Servings