If you love shrimp scampi and you love salmon, baked salmon scampi is a no-brainer. Certainly, for me it should have been a no-brainer, had I thought of it sooner.
To be honest, I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to try salmon this way. Maybe because I’ve had too many run-ins with baked salmon that came out dry. So, for that reason, I didn’t go there. But Steve and I love salmon. Furthermore, we have been trying to cut back on red meat and eat healthier lately. For that reason, we are consuming even more of it. It was time to get some variety in the preparation.
One day, Steve saw me defrosting salmon portions, and asked me as we got close to dinner time, “what time do you want me to pre-heat the grill? Or, are you going to pan-sear the salmon?” At that moment, it hit me. Pan-sear, grill. Grill, pan-sear. Oh my. We were in a salmon rut! So, I told him, “neither. I’m doing something different.” When he asked me what I was doing differently, I told him I didn’t know, but I’d figure it out.
I immediately started going through classic seafood preparations in my mind that might apply. When I hit scampi, I thought, why not?
Why not indeed! Decadently moist, tender, flaky. With the garlic-forward loveliness and lemony-herby goodness of scampi, I should have done this AGES ago!
let’s make some baked salmon scampi
Classic scampi ingredients that we’ll apply just a little bit differently.
By the way, we have been buying our salmon exclusively from Costco lately. The truth is, I have yet to purchase a poor-quality salmon there. They are fresh, with a lovely clean smell. Also, they are meaty, and with just enough fat to be moist and tender. I love their salmon!
Here’s what I do. I buy a skinless salmon half, cut it into individual portions, and use my vacuum seal Food Saver to package two each. Then I put them in the chest freezer. See? Beautifully preserved salmon, in perfect portions for just Steve and me.
Preparing the salmon
Here’s a tip; let the butter REALLY come to room temperature. It should be soft enough to easily whisk.
Then, whisk in the other ingredients.
Hint: make sure your other ingredients are REALLY at room temperature as well. If they are even a little chilled, they will cool the butter and make it hard to cream everything together.
Next, salt and pepper your salmon to taste. I like to lightly salt on both sides and pepper only the top.
Then, place the seasoned salmon in an oven-safe dish. I like to use a clear dish because I want to see the sides of the salmon as it cooks. That is the best way to predict the difference between done and over-done. Sure, I give you cooking time, but with fish, it is really a function of the thickness of the individual cut. Use the time as a guideline but watch your salmon too!
Oh, and you might to use a deep dish. Full disclosure. The wine and lemon juice separate during baking from the olive oil and melted butter, and it spits a bit. The deeper the dish, the cleaner your oven.
And here is where the scampi preparation gets adapted a little. And here is ALSO why it is important to have EVERYTHING at room temperature. You want that creamy, soft, seasoned butter to be a “thing” with which you can top each salmon portion.
Why, you may ask? Because, the beauty of scampi IS the garlic. And you want it all on the salmon, not floating around like runaway goodness in the bottom of your baking dish. When you apply the creamed seasoned butter this way, the butter melts, but leaves the solid minced garlic sitting right on top of the fish.
baking the salmon
Bake for 10-12 minutes, OR until the sides are uniformly opaque, without a line of darker orange in the middle. At the point, remove from the oven immediately!
I use the last two minutes of cooking to turn off bake and turn on broil. That will give you a beautifully light caramelization on the top.
See the pale, evenly colored sides? Perfectly cooked!
And to serve, top it with fresh chopped parsley and pair it with your favorite sides.
As many of you know, we like to avoid carbs, and we LOVE peas. So, I served it over a bed of sweet peas. It was a perfect pairing. The tender, sweet, creamy “greenness” of the peas, with the melt-in-your mouth garlic-lemony perfection of the salmon, and the fresh herby brightness of the parsley. Hmmm, hmm, hmm, hmm, hmmm!
A meal this good in less than 20 minutes? Seriously! This is definitely a keeper meal.
- 2 salmon portions, 6-7 ounces, skinless
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1 large or 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon white wine
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- To Start, preheat the oven to 425 F.
- Next, whisk together the ingredients from the olive oil through the red pepper flakes into a cohesive, creamy mix, adding a pinch of salt for seasoning.
- Then, salt and pepper the salmon portions to taste, and place in an oven-safe dish.
- Spoon half of the creamed butter mix onto each salmon portion. Be sure to spread evenly over the entire portion but keep the mixture on top only. Don't let it run down the sides.
- Then bake for 10-12 minutes, depending on thickness of salmon portion. For the last 2 minutes, you can choose to switch the oven from bake to broil to achieve a light caramelization on top.
- Remove from oven when the sides are a pale opaque color, without a darker red line in the middle.
- Finally, sprinkle fresh parsley on top and serve with your choice of sides.
Use a high-sided oven-safe dish to minimize splattering.