French in a Flash: Salmon with Thyme and Three-Lemon Crème Fraîche


[Photograph: Kerry Saretsky]

Salmon is my sit-down-and-be-good food, the I-ate-too-many-latkes antidote. That's why I've been doing a zillion variations on this theme this winter: a slab of salmon slow-roasted with olive oil on a bed of herbs. Traditionally, I do a simple pairing of rosemary and thyme with a good cascade of olive oil, but this is a lighter and brighter version roasted over thyme and lemon. And while I usually roast fish hot and fast at 400 to 500°, here I let roast longer at 350° for more gentle cooking. The fish soaks up the flavor of the herbs and citrus while the edges get crisp.

I serve the fish hot for dinner or room temperature for brunch, with a throw-together sauce of crème fraîche, thyme leaves, and three variations on the lemon theme: lemon zest, lemon juice, and minced preserved lemon (a gift from my Moroccan grandmother, who makes it herself). If the salmon is hot, the cream melts and pools in the cracks in the cooked fish. If the salmon is room temperature, it's like a dipping sauce. Either way, this dish feels light and lean, and it pays due respect to the citrus season.

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