Salmon always makes a special dinner, with its full but mild flavor, meaty texture, beautifully colored flesh and high concentration of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Look for wild Alaskan salmon, the best choice in terms of sustainability.
Accompany this salmon with an easy-to-make creamy, citrusy aioli: In a large bowl, whisk together 2 large egg yolks and a pinch each of salt and white pepper until blended. In a slow, steady stream, add 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml.) grapeseed oil and 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml.) extra-virgin olive oil to the egg yolks, whisking constantly until the mixture is thick and emulsified. Stir in the grated zest of 1/2 lemon, then thin the aioli with fresh lemon juice until it is the consistency and flavor you like. Serve right away or cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days.
Fennel-Roasted Whole Salmon
1 whole salmon, 6-8 lb. (3-4 kg.), cleaned by the fishmonger
4 Tbs. (2 fl. oz./60 ml.) olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 bunch fresh thyme
3 fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored and cut crosswise into slices 1/2 inch (12 mm.) thick, with handful of fronds reserved
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml.) dry white wine
Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C).
Rub the cavity of the salmon with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Lightly sprinkle the cavity with salt and pepper.
Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, cut the lemons crosswise into paper-thin slices. Lay half of the lemon slices inside the cavity of the salmon. Strip a small handful of leaves from the thyme sprigs and scatter them over the lemon slices. Rub the outside of the salmon with another 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle with more salt and pepper.
In a bowl, toss the fennel slices with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to coat thoroughly. Spread the fennel in an even layer on a large, deep, rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a large roasting pan. Place the fish on top. If just part of the head and/or tail of the fish hangs over the edge(s) of the pan, you can cut the fish to fit inside the pan. If more than that extends over the edge(s) of the pan, you can cut the fish in half crosswise and place the halves side by side. Top the salmon with the remaining lemon slices, arranging them attractively, and place the remaining thyme sprigs and the fennel fronds over and around the fish.
Roast the fish for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 425°F (220°C). Pour the wine into the pan all around the fish and continue roasting until the flesh is opaque throughout (use a thin-bladed knife to peek) or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 130°F (54°C). Start checking at 30 minutes; it may take up to 45 minutes, depending on the size of the fish.
Remove the salmon from the oven and let rest for at least 10 minutes, or let cool to room temperature. Serve the salmon whole, directly from the pan, allowing guests to help themselves to a portion of the fish and some sliced fennel, or transfer the fish to a serving platter and arrange the fennel around the fish. If desired, pass the aioli at the table. Serves 10-12.
Recipe from Good Food to Share, by Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan.