Salmon, a culinary delight revered for its rich flavor and numerous health benefits, is a versatile fish that can be prepared in countless ways. Whether you're a seasoned chef or a kitchen novice, this guide on how to cook salmon will take you through the art of cooking salmon, ensuring a delicious outcome every time.
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Tips for Perfectly Baked Salmon
- Choose Quality: Opt for fresh, wild-caught salmon or sustainably farmed varieties.
- Preparation: Pat the salmon dry and season generously.
- Temperature Matters: Bake at 375°F for a balance of moisture and texture.
- Timing is Key: Avoid overcooking; salmon should be slightly translucent in the center when done.
Cooking With The Skin On or Skin Off
Cooking salmon with the skin on can enhance flavor and texture. The salmon skin becomes crispy when seared, adding a delightful contrast.
Skin On: Cooking salmon with the skin on can enhance flavor and texture. The salmon skin becomes crispy when seared, adding a delightful contrast.
Skin Off: Ideal for a more delicate presentation.
Identifying When Your Baked Salmon is Perfectly Cooked
Texture: The salmon should flake easily with a fork.
Color: Look for a change from translucent to opaque.
Internal Temperature: Aim for 145°F at the thickest part.
Temperatures For Baking Salmon
- Individual Fillets (6 oz): 400°F for 12-14 minutes.
- Large Side (2 lbs): 375°F for 15-20 minutes.
Tips To Perfectly Cooked Salmon
- Quality: Opt for fresh, either wild-caught or farmed salmon, depending on your preference for taste and texture. Farmed salmon tends to be fattier, which can be beneficial for certain cooking methods.
- Cook salmon fillet skin side down 70% of the cooking time.
- Personal sized filets cook in 4 to 6 minutes (Closer to 5 minutes).
- When Baking Salmon – 375 degrees is a very successful temperature. Offers enough temperature to cook the fish through gently. When you’re confident, 400 to 425 degrees can offer a different finished texture. I still find 375 the sweet spot. With fish, something that can get overcooked within a minute, the lower temperature gives you more room and a larger window before removing it from the oven.
- Sauteing / Stove Top Cooking Method – Use medium heat and start with olive or peanut oil. Start skin side down. Do not turn over till you can see the fish changing colors at the base of the skin. You’ll see it start turning a gray color. Let the color rise up the side of the fish a little before turning. About ½ inch to ¾ inch ( One and a half to two minutes). Flip and cook on the other side for about one minute, then sear both sides of the fish.
- When the Salmon Is Done: You must consider “Carry Over Cooking Heat/Time) The fish will continue to cook once removed from the elements/heat. This is the part that takes practice. Follow this rule, and you will be faring on the side of not overcooking your fish.
- Always Inspect Your Fish. Look for small pin bones missed by your fishmonger/butcher/person who cleaned the fish. Everyone makes mistakes. You do not want small bones going down your windpipe. The good news is you can easily see them and feel them. Use small tweezers for removal.
- Inspecting The Fish Part Two: If you have a whole fish, look into the fish's eyes. They should be bright and clear. Not muggy or cloudy. This is the single best way to judge freshness. Next is the smell; the fish could smell like the ocean, not fishy fish. Never. Lastly is touch. You should be able to press down on the fish, and the flesh spring back into shape. If any of these three inspection categories gets a failing grade, you do not want to eat the fish.
Watch How To Make
How To Cook Salmon
How To Remove Salmon Skin
Inspect the Salmon for which side you can place your knife under the skin. You may need to make a small cut to get started.
Next, lay the Salmon flat and place the knife between the skin and the fish.
While holding the skin in place, slide the knife back and forth, cutting the skin away from the Salmon.
How To Bake Salmon
- Salmon fillets
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional: Lemon slices, herbs (dill, parsley)
- Preheat Oven: Set your oven to 375°F.
- Prepare the Salmon: Pat the fillets dry. Brush them with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Add lemon slices and herbs on top for extra flavor.
- Bake: Place the salmon on a baking dish with parchment paper lined for easy clean up. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 145°F and the flesh flakes easily with a fork.
- Presentation: Finish under the oven broiler, best with skin on and skin up to promote crispy skin.
- Serve: Enjoy with a side of vegetables or a fresh salad. Lemon slices for a pop of freshness.
How To Sear Salmon
Seared Salmon Ingredients:
- Salmon fillets, skin-on
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil or butter
- Prepare the Pan: Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil or melted butter.
- Season the Salmon: Season the fillets with salt and pepper.
- Sear Skin-Side Down: Place the salmon skin-side down in the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the skin is crispy.
- Flip and Finish: Gently flip the pan seared salmon and cook for another 3-4 minutes, or until the desired doneness.
- Rest and Serve: Let the salmon rest for a few minutes before serving. This ensures a juicy interior.
How To Grill Salmon
- Salmon fillets
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- Lemon wedges (for serving)
- Preheat Grill: Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
- Prepare the Salmon: Brush the salmon with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Prepare the Grill: Once the fire has been lit, the charcoal or wood is burnt down to coals. Move the heat source to one side of the grill. Place the fish on the opposite side. Make sure to oil the side of the fish contacting the grill.
- Grill: Place the salmon on the grill, skin-side down. Grill for about 6-8 minutes, depending on thickness.
- Optional: Place fish on a wooden plank. Soak the wooden plank in water for one hour.
- Flip Carefully: Gently flip the grilled salmon and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
- Serve: Remove from the grill and serve with lemon wedges and your favorite side dish.
What To Serve With
Roasted Vegetables: Brussel sprouts or asparagus.
Grains: Quinoa or brown rice.
Sauces: Dill yogurt sauce or lemon butter. List of sauces below.
Salmon Sauce Recipes
Honey Mustard & Soy Sauce Salmon
- ¼ cup Soy Sauce
- 1 tablespoon Honey Mustard
- In a bowl, whisk together the soy sauce and honey mustard until well combined.
- Brush the mixture over the salmon fillets evenly before cooking.
Teriyaki Glazed Salmon
- Store-bought Teriyaki Sauce
- Salt (to taste)
- Lightly salt the salmon fillets.
- Generously brush the teriyaki sauce over the salmon using a pastry brush.
- Cook as desired, allowing the sauce to caramelize slightly.
Hoisin Sauce Salmon
- Store-bought Hoisin Sauce
- Salt (to taste)
- Start by salting the salmon fillets.
- Apply a layer of Hoisin sauce over the salmon with a brush.
- Cook the salmon, letting the sauce infuse its flavors into the fish.
Sauteed Salmon with Butter, Lemon, and Garlic
- Lemon Juice
- Sliced Garlic
- Melt butter in a pan over low to medium heat.
- Add sliced garlic and sauté gently, ensuring it doesn't burn.
- Add lemon juice and place the salmon in the pan.
- Cook the salmon, basting with the butter mixture for added flavor.
- Fresh Herbs: Chervil, Parsley, or Dill
- Melt butter in a pan.
- Add your choice of chopped herbs to the butter.
- Place the salmon in the pan, cooking it in the herb-infused butter.
How To Store Cooked Salmon
Proper storage of cooked salmon is essential to maintain its freshness and flavor. Here's how you can store your cooked salmon effectively:
Short-Term Storage: Place the cooked salmon in an airtight container. It can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Ensure your refrigerator is at a consistent temperature, ideally below 40°F (4°C).
Serving Suggestions for Leftovers: Leftover cooked salmon is incredibly versatile. It can be flaked over salads, added to sandwiches for a hearty meal, or mixed into pasta dishes for an extra protein boost. It's also great in omelets or scrambles for a nutritious breakfast option.
Long-Term Storage: For longer storage, cooked salmon can be frozen. Wrap the salmon tightly in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, then place it in a freezer bag or airtight container. Label the container with the date to keep track of freshness.
Freezing Duration: Properly stored, cooked salmon can be kept in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Thawing Frozen Salmon: When you're ready to eat the frozen salmon, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. For a quicker method, submerge the sealed container in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes until the salmon is thawed.
Oven Reheating: Preheat your oven to 275°F (135°C). Place the salmon on a baking sheet and cover it loosely with aluminum foil. Heat for about 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 125°F to 130°F (52°C to 54°C).
Microwave Reheating: Although not ideal, you can use a microwave to reheat salmon. Place the salmon on a microwave-safe dish, cover it with a lid or damp paper towel, and heat on medium power for 30 seconds to 1 minute, checking periodically.
- Avoid Room Temperature: Never leave cooked salmon at room temperature for more than 2 hours, as this increases the risk of bacterial growth.
- Check for Spoilage: Before consuming stored salmon, check for any off-odors or discoloration, which are signs of spoilage.