If you’re feeling a bit uncertain about your cooking skills, salmon might seem a little intimidating. Which side do you sear first? What color should it be? How do you know when it’s done? Don’t worry, cooking salmon is easier than you think. With the right method, anyone can prepare a delicious salmon dish that will impress your friends and family.
Choosing the Perfect Salmon
Before we dive into the cooking techniques, let’s talk about choosing the right salmon. There are different species and varieties available in grocery stores, each with its own size, price, availability, and flavor. It’s important to consider sustainability when buying fish. Use the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch app to make an ethical choice. If that’s not available, go for the highest quality and freshest fish that fits your budget. Don’t hesitate to ask the knowledgeable people behind the counter for advice.
How Long to Cook Salmon
According to the FDA, salmon should be cooked to an internal temperature of 145°F. However, when working with good-quality salmon, you can check for doneness with a fork. The salmon should easily flake when tested with a fork. Make sure to check the thickest part of the fillet for the most accurate results.
Broil: Easy and Hands-off
Broiling salmon is one of the easiest and most hands-off techniques. Start by preheating your broiler to high and placing an oven rack in the top third of your oven. This ensures that the salmon will be about 5 inches away from the broiler coils. Place the seasoned fillets on a greased aluminum foil or parchment-lined baking sheet. Broil for 5 to 8 minutes, depending on your preferred doneness. To check if the salmon is ready, gently press the corner of the fillet with a fork. If it flakes easily, you’re good to go!
Bake: Simple and Versatile
Baking salmon is perfect for a quick weekday dinner. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a large baking sheet with foil. Place the skin-side down and bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the salmon turns pink and opaque. You can get creative with flavors by adding sliced lemons, garlic, honey, and thyme. Alternatively, coat the entire fillet with various seasonings like feta cheese, herbs, or everything bagel seasoning. This technique adds flavor and helps keep the fish moist during cooking.
Pan Fry: Crispy and Golden
If you love the golden crust and crispy skin of restaurant-style fish, you can easily achieve it at home. In a nonstick or cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat, coat the bottom of the pan with butter, vegetable oil, or olive oil. Place the fillets skin side up and cook until they naturally release from the pan. Flip the fillets and cook for a few more minutes until the skin is crispy. If the skin gets too crispy before the fish is fully cooked, you can transfer the skillet to a 350°F oven and roast for an additional 5 minutes. You’ll have restaurant-quality fish without the hefty price tag.
Poach: Moist and Tender
Poaching is a foolproof way to ensure moist and tender salmon every time. Season the salmon fillets on both sides and bring a mixture of 1 cup water and 1 cup dry white wine to a boil in a large skillet. Reduce the heat to a simmer and add the salmon. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove the salmon carefully with a fish spatula or large slotted spoon. For extra flavor, add fresh herbs and garlic cloves to the poaching liquid. Fresh dill works particularly well.
Grill: Smoky and Flavorful
When the weather is nice, grilling salmon is a great option for that smoky flavor. There are two grilling techniques you can try. First, cook salmon directly on the grill or a grill pan. Season the fish, then heat the grill over medium-high heat and oil the grates. Place the salmon skin-side down and cook for 6 to 8 minutes until the bottom half looks opaque and the skin releases easily. Flip the fish and cook for another 4 to 6 minutes until cooked through.
Want a fun and mess-free grilling option? Prepare grilled salmon foil packs. Choose quick-cooking vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, onions, or asparagus. Add citrus, herbs, and garlic for extra flavor. Season generously with salt and pepper, then place everything on a large strip of foil. Fold the foil to create a packet and grill for 10 to 12 minutes until the salmon is cooked through and the veggies are tender.
So, how do you like to prepare salmon? Let us know in the comments. If you want more cooking inspiration and tips, visit Ekilove, where you’ll find a wide range of delicious recipes and helpful cooking advice. Happy cooking!