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Salmon Cooking Methods

Most importantly--Is it done yet?

Perfectly prepared fish is moist, flavorful, and succulent. When fish is overcooked, it dries out and loses flavor. To cook fish perfectly, remove it from the heat source before it appears fully cooked, while there is still some translucency in the middle. Fish keeps cooking for several minutes after being removed from the heat. If you wait until the fish looks done, it will be dry by the time it reaches the table.

After 6-8 minutes of cooking, check to see if the fish is done. Take a sharp knife and use it to peek into the thickest part. If the fish is flaky, but still has some translucency in the middle, it is done. It should not, however, look raw. Please refer the picture on right. This is what it should look like when you remove it from the heat. (Taken from the book, Fishes and Dishes.)

Pan Frying

If its not grilling season and I am cooking for 2 people I almost always pan fry our salmon. Its fast and easy and only takes 6-8 minutes. Add a salad or greens and some rice and you have a delicious meal in 20 minutes. Who says eating healthy can't be easy? One of the many things I love about our salmon is how simple you can prepare it and still have it be delicious. No need for a sauce or cheese to make it taste good. With high quality ingredients all you really need is a little olive oil, salt and pepper and you are good to go!

  • Preheat pan to medium-high.
  • Rinse and pat fillets dry. Rub with olive oil, salt and seasonings.
  • Once the pan is hot, add olive oil to the pan.
  • Place salmon SKIN SIDE UP and set timer for 3 minutes.
  • You always start skin side up because dry spices on the flesh can burn if cooked longer than 3 minutes.
  • Flip, reduce heat slightly (to about medium) and cover pan with a lid.
  • Set the timer for another 3 minutes. If it is a thicker piece and it is not done in 3 minutes after flipping, set the timer for 1-2 minute increments till done. If it is thinner piece, it may only require 2 minutes of cooking after flipping.

Heidi's Personal Grilling Rules

When I am grilling, I make the salmon my first priority. I know this may sound silly, but I don't even like to have a conversation with someone while I have fish on the grill. It cooks fast and it is super easy to overcook. I like to have a glass of wine and my timer set. I started this "timer rule" when I nearly overcooked 6 pounds of salmon at a dinner party. I had had a few drinks and was deep in conversation and nearly ruined dinner. If something like this does happen to you, whatever you do, don't point it out to everyone that the salmon is overcooked. Most people will still think it is delicious and probably won't even notice if it is a little overcooked, unless you point it out.

Grilling Tips

This is our favorite meals. Grilled teriyaki salmon, a fresh green salad and rice with nori (seasoned seaweed) sprinkles. Light, easy and simple, this meal is always a crowd pleaser. You can find my super easy teriyaki recipe on the recipe page.

Preparing the Grill:

  • Fish cooks best over a medium-hot fire.
  • Make sure the grill is hot before you start cooking.
  • Liberally brush oil on the grill just prior to cooking.

Grilling the salmon:

  • Cut fillets into meal-size portions before grilling.
  • If you plan to grill a whole fillet I like to cut the tail portion off and grill it separately, as it will cook quicker than the rest of the fillet. I usually put the tail on a few minutes after the main fillet so that everything will come off the grill at the same time.
  • Oil and salt the salmon lightly before grilling.
  • Place the salmon skin side down on the grill. There is no need to flip.
  • Unless you have a well seasoned cast iron grill or one of the really cheap portable grills with thin grates, the flesh of the salmon will most likely stick. To avoid the "sticking panic" cook salmon skin side down and don't flip.
  • Grill approximately 8 minutes per inch of thickness.
  • When removing from the grill slip the spatula between the meat and the skin and easily lift off. The skin will stick to the grill and can be removed later.
  • If the skin is crispy, yet not burned we like to eat it. It is filled with omega 3's and is quite tasty.

More Cooking Options

Baking

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Rise and pat fillets dry.
  3. Oil and salt the salmon lightly before cooking.
  4. For easy clean up, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  5. Bake for 8-12 minutes depending on thickness.

Broiling

  1. Preheat broiler to medium-high.
  2. Rise and pat fillets dry.
  3. Oil and salt the salmon lightly before cooking.
  4. For easy clean up, line a non-metal dish with parchment paper.
  5. Broil 4-6 inches from the heating element.
  6. Broil 5-7 minutes or until salmon is done. No need to flip.

Poaching

  1. Bring poaching liquid to a boil in deep fry pan or sauce pan.
  2. Once boiling, reduce heat to a simmer.
  3. Add salmon and cook for 6-8 minutes depending on thickness.