Joanna’s Salmon

My friend Joanna says she can’t cook.  Every time we talk food she says, “well you know, I can only make salmon and uh…salmon.”

First of all, she is wrong; she can totally cook. Over the past few years, we have had so much fun in the kitchen together.  We have de-boned ducks, rolled out fresh pasta, and made cheese. In spite of what she thinks about her own culinary skills, she really does make an incredible salmon.

I picked up the girls the other day from their afterschool class, and on our way home we stopped by the Santa Barbara Fish Market. They were tired and I was hungry, but going to the harbor and seeing the boats and marina activity gave us a second wind. When we left, I called Joanna to get the recipe for her salmon.

Joanna’s Salmon

Joanna’s Salmon


This recipe is delicious, super fast, easy, and great for entertaining.   If you plan to use it for entertaining, prepare the fish up until the point where you cook it, then put everything in the fridge. Right before you start to plate the rest of the meal, stick the salmon in the oven.  By the time you finish plating the meal, your fish should be done. This is what Joanna did when she had us over for dinner, and it worked beautifully.


Set your oven to broil and place the rack 6 inches from the heat source.


Salmon (deboned and without skin)

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Two small pats of butter on each portion of salmon

*Dry vermouth (OK, go ahead and make yourself a martini!)


*If you don’t want to use vermouth, just add a bit of water or white wine to the pan.  The vermouth really makes it special, though, and I recommend it.


Tip: If you salmon fillets are super skinny on the end, fold the ends underneath to make a more uniform thickness.  This will ensure even cooking.


Slice the salmon into individual portions and sprinkle with olive oil.  Rub the oil into the fish, and season each piece with salt and pepper to taste.  Place the pieces in a shallow pan and put two small dabs of butter on each portion of fish.  Splash the vermouth in the pan so it covers the bottom and slide onto the rack.  Broil the fish for approximately 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it. Depending on the size of your pieces, it might be done quicker.


This recipe is a simple, everyday dish, and the measurements are not exact.  Feel free to experiment with different amounts of each ingredient until you get the flavor you like.


To Serve


For our meal, our littlest daughter requested Fresh Swiss Chard Pasta as a side dish. While the girls were in the bath, I prepared their plates: Pasta on one side of the dish and plain salmon in the other (not touching!) with green beans as far away from the other two as possible (are my kids weird, or can you relate?).


My husband and I like a little more flavor in our food, so for us, I sautéed half a red onion, a bit of garlic, 1 teaspoon of chopped capers, a handful of sliced cherry tomatoes, and parsley in olive oil.   I tossed the pasta in this pan with the salmon cut into chunks along with the juices from the bottom of the pan. It was absolutely delicious! The flavors went so well together, and the salmon was tender, flaky, and just absurdly good. Bonus: My husband and my kids LOVED this meal.  Thanks to Joanna, we have a new family staple.  Enjoy!