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Dec 24, 2013 08:21 AM

Low and Slow Whole Salmon?

Hi folks,
I want to cook a whole salmon. I've read that cooking salmon low and slow is a great technique, but the only recipes for whole salmon I've found say to blast it at 500 degrees or so.
Cooks Illustrated has a recipe for "poached" salmon that has you wrap in foil and cook it at 250... but they say to cool to room temp before eating.
So, stupid question: while whole salmon cook/taste better cooked at high heat?
I want to serve it hot, not cold...

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  1. is it wild salmon? the low and slow will result in a meltingly tender fish, that will be better if not cooked all the way through. it also won't be "hot", but warm.

    don't wrap it. that's more like steaming.

    2 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      So... I should put it in the oven at like 250, *unwrapped*?
      I'm pretty sure it's not wild. I just went down to the waterfront this morning (east coast) and asked for the biggest freshest salmon they had.

      1. re: overthinkit

        farmed salmon is quite different than wild. the flesh is generally flaccid, so i'd roast it to crisp the skin instead of going low/slow.

        but by all means, try it this way and see what you think!

    2. We do this all the time now with salmon. It's delicious, as hotoynoodle says, meltingly tender.
      I usually do smaller pieces, but a side works too.
      Is the skin on? If so, leave it on, it will pull off easily once cooked.
      Season with salt and pepper, lemon zest if you like, and a good drizzle of olive oil.
      Roast at 250F until the edges firm up a bit. The middle will still be slightly soft to the touch, but will firm up as it sits a bit.
      You have to play the line between med-rare and medium -I like it on the rare side, my husband likes it a bit more cooked. I give him the end pieces, or thinner parts of the fillet. You can overcooked the fish at this point and end up with something that flakes, as opposed to the melty quality.

      We do this over fig or grape leaves when they are around, or on parchment when they are out of season. A little espelette is nice here as well, or whatever mild chile you like.

      To serve, I break up the salmon into largish pieces, giving everyone several, but you could portion the side out too, if you want a more traditional look.
      Alternatively, you can cut the side and slow cook the individual pieces. It will go much faster though.

      For a side, I'd guess you are looking at 40 min at least. I'd start checking around 25 min though, and every ten after that. -because I hate when I overcook slow roasted salmon. It's just so good when you nail it right.

      6 Replies
      1. re: rabaja

        I appreciate the help!
        Rabaja, this is a whole fish, boned, head on, skin on, stuffed with citrus (etc) and tied.
        So roasting --> flakes, low and slow --> melty?
        Hmm.... now I'm not sure what to do...

        1. re: overthinkit

          Wow, I've never slow roasted an intact, stuffed whole salmon...I'm wondering too, if it's head on and whole, wouldn't it be more likely wild?
          Maybe I've never noticed whole farmed salmon, but I don't recall seeing the farmed stuff intact.

          Would you be opposed to opening it up and slow roasting the two halved sides?
          I think it would cook better, not steam so much, but give you the firm yet tender meat.
          Also, timing on a whole, stuffed salmon at 250f seems problematic. Maybe someone else has experience with that, however

          1. re: rabaja

            well, I just don't know. Low and slow is my go to method for meat but there could be a reason why all the recipes for whole salmon call for cooking it on high heat.
            As far as timing goes, that's one of the reasons I like low and slow... much easier to get even cooking.
            As far as wild... I'm pretty sure that it's farmed. I just bought it at the place that sells to the grocery store instead of the grocery store, but I bet if it were wild there would have been a sign or something.

            1. re: overthinkit

              how many pounds? i'd go with your first instinct and try the low/slow.

              1. re: hotoynoodle

                Now I'm so confused!

                It's like 11-12 pounds

                1. re: overthinkit

                  The difference between a perfectly cooked salmon and an over cooked dry one is about 30 seconds. You must consider the thickness of the salmon, the oven temperature IMO 200 F (but who's listening).
                  Anyway, for what's it's worth I'd set your oven to 200 F. Put the salmon in UNCOVERED! or you'll simply be poaching it.
                  After about twenty minutes I'd test the deep internal temp. I'm looking for 125 F. Then out of oven to rest tented for a few minutes. The carry over should take the temp to about 130 F which is the perfect doneness for a salmon. After 130 F the salmon is cat food IMO.