Roasting Fish Deliciously in a Breton Way

Nothing could have been easier. I dotted the fillets with butter, added the cayenne, and roasted them in a 450 oven for 10 minutes. Next I flamed some Pernod and poured it over the hot fish. Finally, I spread the fillets with a mere half -tablespoon of crème fraîche before roasting them a few minutes more. The salmon was a huge hit with my husband, a picky seafood eater. The hint of anise, combined with tart crème fraiche, sweet butter, and heat from the cayenne pepper, worked beautifully with the salmon. Maybe some day I’ll work up the courage to execute the lobsters!

Salmon Roasted with Pernod and Crème Fraiche

Four 7 to 8 oz salmon fillets, about 1-in thick
1 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup Pernod or Ricard (See note.)
2 tbsp crème fraîche (See note.)
4 to 5 tsp chopped chives or flat leaf parsley

1.Arrange a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 450 degrees F. Have ready a
rimmed, foil-lined baking sheet.

2. Rub your fingers over the salmon fillets and remove (with a clean pair of tweezers) any protruding bones. Place the fillets, skin side down, on the baking sheet.

3. Divide the butter evenly and dot the top of the fillets with it. Season the fillets with the salt and the cayenne pepper.

4. Roast the salmon until the flesh is opaque and flakes easily, 8 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the fish. Remove from the oven but retain the oven temperature.

5. Pour the Pernod into a small saucepan and set it over medium high heat. When bubbling, remove from the heat and, averting your face, ignite the Pernod with a match. Let it burn off and then pour the Pernod over the fish. Spread 1/2 tablespoon of the crème fraîche over the top of each fillet. Return the baking sheet to the oven and roast only 1 to 2 minutes more to heat the crème fraîche.

6. Use a metal spatula to lift each fillet from the baking sheet (leaving the skins behind). Spoon any drippings in the baking sheet over the salmon, and sprinkle with chives or parsley. Serves 4.

Pernod and Ricard are anise-scented French spirits, which are typically mixed with water and served as a drink. They can also be used in cooking and pair well with fish.

Crème fraîche, available in the dairy section of many groceries, is my first choice for this recipe, but I have substituted sour cream on several occasions with good results.

Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2014

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4 thoughts on “Roasting Fish Deliciously in a Breton Way

  1. I think I’ll try this with monkfish, which is sustainable and often suggested as a lobster substitute, similar in flavor! I steam lobsters often during the summer, but I wouldn’t be able to use the Breton approach to cooking them, either!

    • Hi Karen, I think monkfish would work well and would love to know how it turns out. I used cod fillet and also hake in place of the salmon this summer and both were deliciousl. I’ve made the recipe a ton of times because it’s so easy. Be sure to spoon the pan juices onto the roasted fish as they add extra flavor!

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