Baked Salmon with Watercress Sauce


Preparation info

  • Serves

    Six to Eight

    • Difficulty


Appears in

The Complete Guide to Traditional Jewish Cooking

The Complete Guide to Traditional Jewish Cooking

By Marlena Spieler

Published 2016

  • About

Whole baked salmon is a classic dish served at any simcha buffet, be it Bar and Bat Mitzvah feasts, wedding parties or any festival celebration. Baking the salmon in foil produces a flesh rather like that of a poached fish but with the ease of baking. The sauce is green flecked, tangy and hollandaise-like, yet easy to whip up.


  • 2–3 kg/4½–6¾ lb salmon, cleaned with head and tail left on
  • 3–5 spring onions (scallions), thinly sliced
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • fresh dill sprigs, to garnish
  • lemon wedges, to serve


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Rinse the salmon and lay it on a large piece of foil. Stuff the fish with the sliced spring onions and layer the lemon slices inside and around the fish, then sprinkle with plenty of salt and ground black pepper.

  2. Loosely fold the foil around the fish and fold the edges over to seal. Bake for about 1 hour.
  3. Remove the fish from the oven and leave to stand, still wrapped in the foil, for about 15 minutes, then unwrap the parcel and leave the fish to cool.
  4. When the fish is cool, carefully lift it on to a large plate, still covered with lemon slices. Cover the fish tightly with clear film (plastic wrap) and chill for several hours.
  5. Before serving, discard the lemon slices around the fish. Using a blunt knife to lift up the edge of the skin, carefully peel the skin away from the flesh, avoiding tearing the flesh, and pull out any fins at the same time.

  6. To make the sauce, put the garlic, watercress, tarragon, mayonnaise and lemon juice in a food processor or blender or a bowl, and process or mix to combine.

  7. Arrange the cucumber slices in overlapping rows along the length of the fish, to resemble large fish scales.

  8. Melt the butter, then add to the watercress mixture, a little at a time, processing or stirring, until the butter has been incorporated and the sauce is thick and smooth. Cover and chill before serving. Serve the fish, garnished with dill, with the sauce and lemon wedges.