If you love salmon and prefer a Christmas or Easter lunch or dinner out of a hot kitchen then this is the perfect recipe for you. This whole baked salmon is divine. It comes to the table perfectly cooked, moist, easy to serve and can be baked the day before leaving you more time to enjoy celebrating with family and friends. It creates an amazing table centrepiece and if you don’t manage to finish it, the leftovers are just as delicious tossed into a salad, mixed with eggs for an omelette or quiche, or simply tossed with the dressing and eaten with crusty bread or on crackers. You will be amazed at how simple this whole salmon is to cook and serve and what a breeze your Christmas or Easter entertaining will be.
Preheat the oven to 200c.
Wash the salmon and pat dry with paper towel. I like to leave the head and tail on for effect, if your fish is too large to fit into your oven or baking tray then cut off the head and leave the tail on. Fill the cavity of the fish with one of the sliced lemons, half of the leeks and the peppercorns. On top of the vegetables scrunch in some alfoil and sit the fish up so that it looks like its swimming.
Spread three large pieces of foil over lapping onto your bench and grease with butter or oil. Place the remaining lemon, peppercorns, leeks and the parsley onto the foil and sit the salmon upright. Fold the foil up around the fish and before enclosing the salmon, pour in the verjuice. Tightly seal the salmon in the foil and place onto a baking tray; you may need to bend the fish to fit it in the oven. Bake the salmon for 40 minutes and then drop the temperature down to 100c and bake for a further 20 minutes. Remove the salmon from the oven and carefully peel off the foil. Using a sharp knife, run the knife down the top of the salmon cutting through the skin. The skin will be soft and jelly like.
Gently start to peel off all the skin from the fish exposing the beautiful pink flesh. It is best to do this while the fish is till hot, when the fish starts to cool the fat and jelly will start to set making it difficult to remove the skin. Using the sharp edge of your knife also remove the dark flesh from the fish by scraping gently down the sides of the fish. Removing the skin from the fish is important for the presentation and also for taste of the salmon. Once you have finished removing the skin, cover the salmon with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed.
Using a peeler, peel the cucumber into long ribbons right down to the seeds. Place the ribbons into a bowl. Leave the cucumber for at least 15 minutes then squeeze out most of the excess moisture. Add in the dill fronds and the watercress. Mix all the ingredients for the dressing and set aside to dress the salad just before serving.
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Refrigerate until needed.
Serve the salmon on a platter garnished with a few dill fronds and a couple of spoons of the cucumber salad dressing. Combine the rest of the dressing with the cumber salad and toss together. Using a fork and spoon, pull off pieces of salmon and serve garnished with a spoon full of the cream fraiche and caper dressing.