Roast Salmon with Tarragon and Mustard

Chinook Salmon

Chinook Salmon

By Cat, May 2011 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

Apart from lutefisk, wild-caught salmon is by far my favorite fish; I’m always looking for new recipes to try; this one struck me because of the tarragon and mustard seasoning which appeals to me.

I don’t usually roast salmon in my oven; my preferred method is pan-grilling/roasting. I loved the ingredients in this recipe – especially the fennel – so I adapted it to my ingredient preferences (as oven-roast) for future adaptation to pan-roast technique.

The best fish to use for this recipe is wild-caught king salmon, as the meat is thicker. If you use a smaller fish, you will need to shorten the cooking time considerably.

Roasted Salmon with Tarragon and Mustard

This recipe is adapted from Fine Cooking (1). The original serves 6, but I’ve cut it down to serve 2.

The original uses commercial mayonnaise, but it’s hard to find mayo that isn’t made with soy or canola oil, both of which are likely GMO (unless Organic), and are also likely rancid (even if organic), so I make my own with olive oil.

My Mayonnaise recipe uses raw egg with fresh liquid whey (from making yogurt) added to lengthen the refrigerated life of the mayo, since the recipe makes more than what you need for this salmon dish. Do not use a raw commercial egg if you make your own mayo; instead, coddle it to kill any bad bacteria. But if you raise your own hens with full access to pasture, or if you get your eggs from a local person who raises them in that way, you should be able to use the egg raw, as such hens are far more healthy than commercial hens.

Normally I make my mayo using lemon juice, but since the salmon recipe calls for lime juice to be added to the mayo, consider using lime juice when you make the mayo. And include the whey if you will be storing the unused mayo for more than 2 days.

I don’t like to lay the fish directly on the aluminum foil, especially when using lemon or lime juice, to avoid leaching the aluminum into the food.  So I line the baking sheet with oiled parchment paper instead of foil.

While this recipe roasts the fish in the oven, you could cook it on the grill, but not directly over the coals.

I’ve not tested this yet.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • Mayo (see also Mayonnaise)
  • 1 whole raw egg from a local, pastured hen, room temperature
  • 1 raw egg yolk from a local, pastured hen; room temperature (or coddle the egg if using a commercial egg)
  • 1 tsp Dijon-type mustard
  • 1 ½ Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp whey (recommended if will be storing all/part of the mayo for more than 2 days)
  • generous pinch unrefined sea salt
  • ¾ – 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salmon
  • 1 Tbsp homemade mayo (above)
  • 1 ¼ tsp coarse-grained Dijon mustard
  • 1½ tsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ tsp finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 each 6-oz center-cut, skin-on salmon fillets
  • unrefined sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Equipment
  • food processor or blender (for mayo)
  • heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet
  • parchment paper (or aluminum foil)
  • small bowl & small plate
  • serving platter


  1. Mayo – make the day before the salmon: In blender or food processor, place egg, yolk, mustard, salt, lemon juice and whey.  Process until well blended, about 30 seconds.
  2. If using a food processor, use the attachment that allows adding liquids drop by drop.  If using a blender, you will have to carefully control the addition of the olive oil in a slow, thin, stream.  In either case, the oil is added while the motor is running.
  3. When desired texture and thickness is reached, taste to check the seasoning, and add more salt or lemon juice if desired.
  4. If you included the whey (for storage), let the mayo sit at room temperature in a covered jar, for 7 hours before refrigerating (to ferment and prolong the life of the mayo).  The mayo will become thicker with time.
  5. Salmon: Preheat oven to 400°F, and position rack in center of oven. Line a heavy-duty rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; lightly oil the paper (or use aluminum foil).
  6. Arrange salmon, skin side down, on prepared baking sheet; sprinkle lightly with salt, and grate just a bit of black pepper over.
  7. Stir together the mayo, mustard, lime juice and tarragon in small bowl. Spread over each fillet, reserving a little.
  8. Roast salmon until just cooked through, 10 – 14 minutes. To test for doneness: poke a paring knife all the way through the thickest part, and hold it for 5 seconds. Remove knife and touch its flat side to your lower lip. If it feels warm, the fish is ready.
  9. Lift fillets off baking sheet with a spatula, leaving the skin behind. Transfer to serving platter or plates.
  10. Serve with braised asparagus and rice or steamed red potatoes, and the leftover mayo sauce.


  1. Fine Cooking recipe, originally by by Laraine Perri (

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