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Wild Caught Salmon with Lemon Tarragon Aioli

Wild caught king salmon from right off the coast at Bodega Bay is a classic Sonoma County dish, which naturally pairs with our cool climate Chardonnays. Also, fun to try with Pinot Noir. But, why choose? For a group of four of more, likely to drink more than one bottle, who says it has to be the same wine?


For the Salmon. Serves 6-8.

1 side of fresh salmon (approx. 2-3 pounds)-pin bones removed, leave skin on.
2-3 tablespoons kosher salt
2-3 tablespoons freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter-at room temp-cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons high quality olive oil
2 lemons-sliced into 1/4” rounds (Meyer lemons would be wonderful)
fresh dill (optional)

For the Aioli

1 clove of garlic finely minced
1 egg yolk
Juice from 1 lemon-zest from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
Kosher salt to taste
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup light olive oil

How To Make

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place rack in lower third of oven. On a 1/2 /sheet pan-grease the pan with 1 tablespoons of the olive oil, and the other 1 tablespoon of the olive oil brushed on the skin side of the salmon. With your clean hands rub the salt and freshly ground pepper all over the salmon. Place the salmon skin side down the sheet pan. Dot with the small cubes of butter all over the flesh side of the salmon(top). layer the rounds of sliced lemon, the length of the salmon and add sprigs of dill if using.
Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, for “pink in the middle”. Carefully open oven when ready to check, and carefully remove salmon from oven. Let rest for 5-10 minutes.
Remove and discard the dill, but keep the lemon rounds for garnish. transfer salmon to a cutting board, slice and serve, or, let salmon cool to room temp, transfer to a serving platter and serve, or, let cool to room temp, and chill in fridge for and chill in fridge for 1 hour or up to 1 day (wrapped in plastic wrap). Serve chilled.
For the aioli, in a med size mixing bowl, add the minced garlic, egg yolk, lemon juice, salt & pepper to taste. With a wire whisk, blend well. Whisk in the lemon zest and fresh tarragon. Begin beating in the olive oil, little by little, with the wire whisk, until smooth and thick. Adjust seasonings. Chill. Serve either along side the salmon in a separate bowl, or add a generous dollop to each serving, on top.