This California King Salmon recipe is made with a tangy Lemon Pesto and thin slices of zucchini. It presents beautifully for any special occasion or when you just want to impress.
While this California King Salmon recipe looks fancy, it's actually quite easy to prepare and will no doubt wow your guests.
With a unique lemon-y pesto and a thin layer of zucchini, this delicious salmon doesn't even need a side dish.
(I often suggest brands I love and use — these are only suggestions — this is not a sponsored post.)
- California King salmon - Select salmon with moist, shiny skin, firm flesh and a fresh aroma.
- Lemon Pesto
- zucchini - Choose firm zucchini with blemish-free, vibrant green skin. For this recipe, try to buy zucchini that is all the same size.
- extra virgin olive oil - I like this one.
- salt - I almost always bake and cook with Kosher salt. (It’s coarse and salts foods in a subtle way that enhances their flavor without making them taste salty.)
- pepper - Freshly ground is best.
Recipe Substitutions and Tips
- Can't get California King Salmon? Use another salmon. It can also be any cut you like.
- Have a favorite pesto? Feel free to use it. The flavors in the Lemon Pesto are delicious with salmon, but a basil pesto or Lemon Verbena Pesto would also be delicious.
- Need to save time? Skip the zucchini decoration, or slice and sauté it to serve on the side. Make the pesto the day before or buy one you like.
How to Make it
(More detailed instructions are in the recipe card below.)
- Drizzle olive oil on a sheet pan and place the 2 salmon steaks on it. Spread about 1½ tablespoons of the pesto evenly on top of each one. Layer the thin zucchini slices on top of the pesto.
- Drizzle a bit more of the olive oil over the zucchini slices -- so they shine, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
- Place in a 400°F oven and bake just until the salmon is cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes. It should still be slightly translucent in the center.
- Let it cool for a few minutes and then cut each of the steaks down the middle to create 4 portions.
Above: Lemon Pesto
About California King Salmon
- King salmon, known also as Chinook salmon, is called "King" because it's the most prized and largest of all five species of commercially caught Pacific salmon.
- California King salmon is incredibly tender and flaky with a rich, buttery flavor.
- It can be pan-seared, baked, broiled or sliced thinly when raw for sashimi or sushi.
- California Wild-Caught King Salmon is harvested using "trolling."
What is Trolling when related to fishing?
Trolling is an environmentally friendly fishing method. The fish are caught one at a time with barbless hooks. Using trolling, fish that might be too small or the wrong species can easily be returned to the water, unharmed.
Here's an article on the differences between salmon species.
I hope you love this California King Salmon recipe as much as I do.
More Salmon Recipes
- Avocado Salmon Bowl
- Olive Oil Poached Salmon
- Cabbage Wrapped Salmon
- Blackened Mexican Salmon
- Baked Cilantro Chimichurri Salmon
- Spicy Sriracha Salmon Basil Burger
California King Salmon with Zucchini Recipe
- 2 (¾ pound) California King Salmon steaks (about 1 to 2-inches thick)
- 3 tablespoons Lemon Pesto (click here for the recipe)
- about ¼ pound zucchini, sliced into very thin rounds
- olive oil
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Set the oven and prepare the pan. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Drizzle a bit of olive oil on a sheet pan or line it with parchment.
- Assemble. Place the 2 salmon steaks on the prepared sheet pan. Spread about 1½ tablespoons of the pesto evenly on top of each steak. Layer the thin zucchini slices on top of the pesto, pressing them very gently so they stick.Use a pastry brush, or drizzle a bit more of the olive oil over the zucchini slices -- so they shine. Then sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
- Bake. Place in the 400°F oven and bake just until the salmon is cooked, about 8 minutes. It should still be slightly translucent in the center.
- Cool and serve. Let it cool for a few minutes and then cut each of the steaks down the middle to create 4 portions. Serve immediately.