Salmon is a delight. Pink, soft, flavorful, and easy to cook. As an added bonus, most salmon preparations are very simple, including this one. For Sheet Pan Steamed Salmon, we do exactly that, steam salmon on a sheet pan. I wanted to follow the “en papillote” steaming method, without actually making the paper envelope. To achieve this, I simply invert a second sheet pan and place it on top of the pan holding the salmon and herbs, which traps some steam as the salmon bakes. It doesn’t seal perfectly, but it works!
The resulting steamed salmon is very soft, delicate, and seems fancy, even though it takes almost no work to prepare. Speaking of preparation, let’s get making our Sheet Pan Steamed Salmon!
- Cutting board- for cutting fish fillets, and/or lemons and herbs
- Chef’s Knife- or your favorite knife
- Medium mixing bowl- for briefly brining the fish
- Two half sheet pans- for steaming/baking
- parchment paper- for easy cleanup
- instant read thermometer- for checking doneness
- Salmon- you’re looking for fillets that weigh about 6 to 8 ounces, and are about one inch thick. If they are thicker or thinner, you’ll need to adjust the cook time.
- Lemons- don’t leave these out. Yum yum yummy.
- Herbs and fennel- you can use whatever herbs you like. Don’t like dill? Leave it out! Love tarragon? Add it! You get the picture. Same with the fennel. I think it adds a really nice flavor, but if you hate fennel, don’t feel obligated to use it. The herbs I use in the recipe are Italian parsley, dill, and fennel.
Preparing the Sheet Pan Steamed Salmon
- Prepare your salmon fillets: of course, you can have your fish counter do this for you, or buy pre-cut fillets. I recommend 6 to 8 ounce fillets. If you use frozen salmon, thaw it before proceeding. If you cut your own fillets, be sure to check for pin bones, and remove the skin if you wish. Really, you should check for pin bones in any case. These are larger bones that are very pokey and unpleasant to eat. To check for pin bones, run your (clean, obviously) hand over the fillet in multiple directions. Carefully remove any bones you may find with fish tweezers or a knife.
- Brine the salmon for 10 minutes: this serves two purposes. First, it lightly seasons the interior of the fish. Second, apparently it can help reduce the appearance of albumin, which is that white protein that appears when you cook salmon. I did not notice a huge visual difference between my brined and un-brined salmon, but many people say they do. Let me know how this goes for you in the comments.
- On a half sheet pan, lay down your parchment paper, followed by lemons, and your herbs and fennel. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Place the salmon fillets on top of the bed of herbs, and top with lemons. Pour 1/4 cup of water into the pan. Cover with a second inverted half sheet pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the center of the salmon fillets register 130 degrees Fahrenheit in the center.
- Serve and enjoy!
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Sheet Pan Steamed Salmon
- 2 half sheet pans
- 1 piece parchment paper
For the Brine
- 4 cups water
- 4 Tablespoons table salt
For the Steamed Salmon
- 4 6-8 oz salmon fillets de-boned and skin removed, if desired
- 2 large lemons sliced
- 1/2 bunch Italian parsley
- 4-5 sprigs fresh dill
- 1 bulb fennel with fronds
- salt and pepper
For the Brine
- Whisk the water and 4 Tablespoons of table salt together in a medium sized mixing bowl. Place the salmon fillets in the salty brine solution and let sit for 10 minutes while you prepare the herbs.
- Remove the fillets, pat dry, and season lightly with salt and pepper on both sides.
Steaming the Salmon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- While the fish is brining, line one half sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Slice the fronds off of the fennel bulb, then slice the bulb thinly.
- Arrange the sliced lemons (reserving four slices), parsley, dill, and fennel (both fronds and sliced bulb) on the sheet pan, forming a bed for the fish. Pour 1/4 cup of water into the bed of herbs. This helps create steam.
- Lay your salmon fillets, which have been seasoned with salt and pepper on both sides, on top of your herbs. Top each fillet with a slice of lemon.
- Cover the half sheet pan with another half sheet pan, which has been turned over, creating a lid. Carefully place the sheet pan with its lid in the oven, and bake for 30 minutes, or until the center of the salmon fillets reaches 130 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the fillets from their bed of herbs, and serve immediately with rice, orzo, or risotto.