How to cook a whole salmon

How to cook a whole salmon

Whole salmon can be roasted, barbecued and baked in a salt crust but by far the most common way of cooking a salmon whole is poaching.

A whole poached salmon is a magnificent centrepiece for a summer celebration. Traditionally decorated with thin slices of cucumber and served with new potatoes and hollandaise sauce, it’s a bit of an eighties throwback but it is a really simple yet impressive way to cater for a lot of people and as it can be cooked in advance, it can be a great stress-free option for a buffet.

To save time (and mess), ask your fishmonger to gut and scale the salmon and remove the fins for you.

Poaching salmon whole is normally done in a fish kettle but a roasting tray covered tightly with foil will also work if you don’t have one.

  • 2.5kg whole salmon
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 lemons, quartered
  • salt
Place the salmon in the kettle, season with salt and cover with cold water.
Add the onion and lemon quarters to the water, cover the kettle with a lid and place on the stove, bring to the boil
Turn off the heat and leave to rest until cool
Carefully remove the salmon and place on a chopping board
Gently scrape away the skin with a small knife being careful not to pierce the flesh and serve whole decorated with thinly sliced cucumber


Try adding fennel, star anise, bay leaf or seaweed to the water to flavour the salmon.

Alternatively you could roast the salmon, either in the oven or on a barbecue; this will give a much richer flavour. Stuff the cavity of the fish with lemon and herbs and wrap tightly in foil. Bake for 20 minutes at 180˚C/gas mark 4. To check that it’s cooked, pierce the deepest part of the fish for 10 seconds then lay the skewer on the back of your hand – it should be warm to the touch.

Galton Blackiston’s Salt-baked salmon is cooked in a salt crust to retain the moisture of the fish.

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