Slow Cooked Salmon with Lemon Relish

Slow Cooked Salmon with Lemon Relish

When my kids were young, they were deeply suspicious of any meat that wasn’t chicken. It didn’t matter what it tasted or looked like; chicken was fine and anything else wasn’t. So whenever I cooked salmon, I referred to it as “sea chicken,” and they ate it happily for years, until the younger one got into a vocal disagreement with a visiting playdate friend who recognized a salmon when she saw it. I dissembled with a not-very-convincing “potato, potahto” response that only left her friend thinking I was some kind of an idiot who didn’t know fish from fowl. Eventually, like the tooth fairy, the reality of salmon became clear and the girls took it with much better grace than they did the news about the tooth fairy. In my zeal to make the tooth fairy experience extra special I had taken to writing teeny notes from the tooth fairy on stamp-sized pieces of paper when they lost a tooth. The girls were thrilled by this personal correspondence from a real live fairy, but when it was time to tell the truth about the tooth fairy, those notes were produced as Exhibit Number One for why I HAD to be wrong when I finally admitted that sadly, there was no tooth fairy.

Alice was fascinated by fairies, and noticed that the tooth fairy and Santa’s elves (also prolific teeny note writers) had the same handwriting. She asked me why that was, and I quickly said that they’d gone to the same calligraphy school. She asked if she could go to that calligraphy school too. And I said, “Let’s learn calligraphy now! You don’t need to go to their school!” And on this went until the tooth fairy became far too real. I overdid it on the make-believe and then had to walk it back – and I’m not sure Alice doesn’t still believe in the tooth fairy.

But back to the salmon. We still try to eat salmon regularly, and I like this recipe, which was originally created by Alice Waters in her Chez Panisse Cafe cookbook. It’s for a slow-cooked salmon with just a little olive oil, salt, pepper, and parsley, served with a Meyer lemon relish. Since Meyer lemons were not available at the grocery, I used regular lemons and trimmed the pulp very closely to the skin of the lemon to get a similar result. This makes a beautiful presentation, with the colorful lemons and shallots glistening on the oh-so-tender salmon in a tart and tangy accompaniment to the fish. Slow Cooked Salmon with Lemon Relish on America's Table

I hope you’ll give this a try – it’s simple, easy and delicious!

Adapted from Alice Water’s Chez Panisse Café Cookbook

Serves: 4

Prep time: 90 minutes for salmon to cook, 10 minutes to assemble the lemon relish


  • 4 servings of salmon fillet, about 1/12 pounds
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil for brushing on baking pan and salmon


  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Put a pan of warm water into the oven, on the bottom rack, to keep the moistness in the salmon.Slow Cooked Salmon with Lemon Relish on America's Table
  3. Brush down the baking pan with olive oil, place salmon in pan and brush salmon with oil as well.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste. Allow 1 – 1 ½ hours for salmon to cook through slowly.
  5. The salmon will be done with it is slightly firm to the touch and the fish juices are running out of the fish.
  6. Do not over cook.Slow Cooked Salmon with Lemon Relish on America's Table

  8. Serve topped with lemon relish.



  • 1 large lemon, peeled so that skin is very thin and minced into small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons finely-chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • 1 diced shallot


  1. In a small mixing bowl, combine shallot, vinegar, squeeze of lemon and salt and pepper.
  2. Trim pulp from lemon skin and mince skin finely. Add lemon pieces, parsley and olive oil to shallots and adjust seasoning. Use as an accompaniment to the salmon. Serve.

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  1. I love the little stories you share – this is so funn!
    I’ll be trying the recipe as well. I’ve never cooked salmon this slowly & am anxious to see how I like it.

  2. Your recipe sounds delish!
    Just wondering, though, did you and your husband agree on the chicken and tooth fairy stories, so when the girls questioned, you and he would not contradict each other?

    • What a good question! I always told my husband what I was up to – after the fact – because those moments were never planned. Fortunately, he thought it was amusing, and we had a solid deal to always present a united front to our kids. Thank you for giving me a good subject for a post; I think kids deserve a happy, whimsical childhood, free from fear and the harshness of the world. There is time enough for that later, and yet the bent in children’s literature today is decidedly darker now. How do you raise a happy adult out of a childhood of nothing but harsh reality and sad stories?

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