Whole roast salmon with a mustard dill sauce

Video guide to roast salmon with a mustard dill sauce

Hello, I'm John Burton-Race and I've got a fantastic cook along recipe for you; whole roasted salmon with a mustard and dill sauce.

Ingredients for the salmon recipe

The first thing to show you is the salmon. Now, I've got the fish counter at Tesco to take the fins off, head, tail and the scales. This beautiful fish weighs about 2.2kgs and this is going to be enough for six very generous sized portions for a main course.

Finely slice the lemons

Very straight forward, for this dish I need some lemons, I've got three lemons here which I've finely sliced, and some beautiful herbs, some fresh thyme, some rosemary and some bay leaf and that's it.

Roughly chop the herbs

Now, the first thing I've got to do is take the herbs and, very roughly, chop them up. Not too fine, just enough to break the lovely fragrance out of the herbs so we can get some of that flavour into the salmon when it's roasting in the oven. The oven I've preheated 200 degrees for a normal oven, 180 degrees for a fan oven, and this will fish will take about 35 minutes to cook.

Just break up the bay leaves, just to release some of that lovely oil and flavour. Lemons, three, make a base, so the salmon doesn't catch on the bottom of this tray when it's roasting, and it gives it a platform and the idea is that once the juices of the lemon come out, during the cooking process, they will caramelise and those lovely lemon sugars, with the herbs will go through the fish. So take some of the herbs, sprinkle them over the top of the lemons.

Season the salmon

Take the salmon, very straight forward, lay it down on top of the lemon and the herbs. Then, with a nice sharp knife, make a few incisions, just nicking the skin, about five will do. More lemon inside, I'll just show you that, this has been gutted, just lay the lemons down inside the fish. Some more lemons for the top and the rest of the herbs just sprinkled on the top.

Here I've got four tablespoons of oil, about three of them I'll need just to pour over the top of the lemons and the salmon, this will help with the cooking. Keep about a tablespoon of the oil back for the sauce. Salt, pepper. So the salmon's ready, it's as simple as that. Next thing I'm going to do is put it in the oven, it's going to take about 35 minutes to cook.

How to make the mustard and dill sauce

Salmon's in the oven, the next thing I've got to do is make the sauce. Again, very, very straight forward. We need a nice little pan here and with the remainder of the oil, that goes in, gets hot. I've got half an onion, which I've finely chopped, straight into the oil. And the other ingredients are very straight forward; I've got two teaspoons of runny honey, one tablespoon of seed mustard, I'll need the zest and juice of about half a lemon and finally some lovely fresh dill, which will give it a beautiful aniseed flavour. I'll put that in at the very last minute.

So half an onion in the pan, just finely chopped, about a tablespoon of olive oil and just move them around in the pan, no colour. What we're going to do is cook these out so they absorb the lovely olive oil but no colour at all. If you get any discolouration or burn on the onions, you'd best throw it away because you'll ruin the sauce, it'll become bitter. With something as delicate as this lovely little salmon, you want to keep this sauce fairly sweet, it's quite important. So just move the onions around in the oil, takes about two or three minutes.

The next thing I'm going to do is add 150ml of chicken stock. Chicken stock, not fish stock, because I, again, want the sweetness that you get from chicken stock. If I put fish stock in here, I wouldn't get the depth of flavour I need, so chicken stock is what you need. Now I'm going to bring this to the boil and then turn it down to a simmer and then let it cook out for about five minutes, just to reduce down, thicken slightly and pull all the flavour of the onions.

Right, OK, have a look at this. This has been simmering for about five or six minutes and the onions are really, really lovely and tender, just a little crunch in the back but you just want to soften the onions. Just to finish the sauce, in goes the honey, give it a stir, just two teaspoons of runny honey, that'll give it a bit of sweetness. Then for the sour, about half a lemon zest straight into the pan. So the sweet's the honey, the sour is the lemon, little bit of bitterness from the lemon zest to give it some flavour. Cut the lemon in half and take the juice out.

Add the seed mustard

Then lastly, turn off the heat, it's very important that the pan's not bubbling, we're going to add the seed mustard. It's very important that you don't, once the mustard's added, that you don't reboil the sauce because if you do, all the oils in the mustard will crack and split the sauce and make it look really, really granular, and of course, the sauce will go bitter. You just want the flavour of the mustard, you don't want any bitterness from the mustard. So switch it off, it'll keep warm for at least 10 minutes, don't worry about that, stir in the mustard and then, lastly, this beautiful dill, smells tremendous. Very roughly, just chop up the dill and add that at the very last minute. That'll give it a little aniseed flavour which goes so well with the salmon. By adding it at the very last minute, just before you serve it, you'll keep the colour, which is so important. Last minute, stir the dill in and, of course, let's just give that a bit of a taste. Really, really delicious, you've got the sweetness from the honey, a little acidity from the lemon and right at the back, you've got this aniseed flavour which will work really well with the salmon.

Test your salmon is cooked

Now the salmon's ready so let's just grab that. Looks delicious and if I touch that, you see it just gives a little. It's a bit like a steak, when you're trying to find out is something rare or medium or medium rare. Little bit of give there so I know the heat's got to the outside but is there heat inside? The only way you can tell that is take a little skewer and put it in the thickest part of the salmon, leave it there for a couple of seconds. Then pull it out and just at the back of your wrist just touch the point of the skewer on the back of your wrist. It shouldn't be hot, just warm, that way you know the heat's got to the bone of the fish and you'll know it's cooked enough.

The thing is with fish, I never like to overcook fish because you'll lose all the natural oils and juices in the fish. At the bone, it'll be a little bit pink, all the rest of the fish will be an orange colour. If you don't like it pink on the bone, just sprinkle a little lemon juice over the flesh and that lemon juice will eat straight into the flesh of the salmon and then it'll be cooked.

Now next thing I'm going to do is take off the roasted lemon slices here and then, with a knife, tuck it up underneath the skin and peel it back, you can see how beautiful and shiny and glossy that is, absolutely gorgeous. One thing that I can do and you can't do is smell and this smells beautiful.

Remove the dark line in the salmon

As I take the skin off, you'll see that I've got a dark line running down the salmon, this is called the blood line, that dark discolouration. Get rid of that, it's nasty, it's horrible, it's bitter. What you really want is the sweet succulent fish, you don't want the nasty bitterness that you would get if you leave that on. Just scrape it, literally scrape it. I can tell that this is cooked beautifully, you can see all the oils coming to the top of this fish, absolutely lovely and smells delicious.

Let's serve a portion of this. I'll run down the middle of the salmon with a nice knife and I'll take off what I think is a portion, couple of slices here. Just tuck the fish slice underneath, against the bone, move the salmon. Lay the salmon down on the plate and you can see slightly pink on the bone, cooked all the way through.

Right, so last thing to do here is a little bit of this delicious mustard and dill sauce, put a bit over the top, not too much, we don't want anything to disguise the beautiful flavour of the salmon. Bit round the outside, maybe a nice little sprig of dill.

And there you have it, a whole roasted salmon with a mustard and dill sauce, fantastic.

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