Chef Les Stuffs A Whole Wild Salmon: Simple and Satisfying

In Foodie Tips & Tidbits by Christine McKellar

Cooking an eight-pound fish might sound intimidating, but it’s surprisingly fast and simple–though filleting the salmon can require some finesse. Save some leftovers for Grilled Salmon Sandwiches too. The sandwich would be equally good with another roasted fish, such as bluefish or cod. -Chef Les Kincaid.

Whole Wild Salmon Stuffed


6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 Serrano chiles, thinly sliced crosswise

1 medium red onion, thinly sliced

1 whole orange, thinly sliced

1 whole lemon, thinly sliced

1/2 small fennel bulb, cored and very thinly sliced

2 tablespoons pure ancho chile powder

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing and serving

One 8- to 9-pound whole wild salmon, scaled and cleaned (Available this time of year)

Salt and freshly ground pepper


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large bowl, toss the garlic, chiles, onion, orange, lemon, and fennel, 1 tablespoon of the chile powder and the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Lay the salmon diagonally on a very large rimmed baking sheet. Season the cavity of the salmon with salt and pepper. Stuff the salmon with the tossed aromatics. Tie the salmon with kitchen string at 3-inch intervals. Rub the salmon all over with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon of chile powder. Wrap the head and tail with foil if they touch the side of the oven.

Roast the salmon on the bottom rack of the oven for about 1 hour, until just cooked through and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 135° to 140°. Remove the salmon from the oven and preheat the broiler. Set the rack 6 inches from the heat source. Broil the salmon for about 3 minutes, until it is richly browned.

With 2 forks, carefully lift off the salmon skin from the top side and reserve. Lift the flesh from the top side of the salmon and transfer to a platter. Lift the skeletal bone from the salmon and discard. Carefully pour off the pan juices into a bowl. Cut the second side of the salmon into sections and transfer to the platter. Discard the aromatics. Serve the salmon with the pan juices, crispy skin and olive oil.

Yield: 12 servings

Compliment the dish with a Chardonnay from the warm climate of California. It takes on a certain richness that works great with meaty, full-flavored fish like this stuffed salmon.

ABOUT: Chef, Wineau and professional bon vivant Les Kincaid is one of today’s most imaginative food personalities. Whether he is lecturing a visiting convention in Las Vegas, or concocting new recipes in his own kitchen, Kincaid transforms common ingredients into wow-inspiring dishes. His artful approach to cooking, confidence-inspiring instructions, and contagious enthusiasm have endeared him to a loyal following that tune in to his weekly shows, frequent his wine or cooking classes and appearances, and collect his books.