Ways to Cook Salmon
Salmon is one of the most popular and widely available fish. We will talk about all the stages of salmon preparation. Salmon is so versatile that it can be enjoyed over the weekdays and made special for the weekend dinners. We'll talk about the types of fish, different cuts, tools needed, and various ways of preparation.
Cuts of salmon
Salmon cuts are very different and each enjoys different methods of preparation. Small filets and steaks are great for casual meals, while the whole side of salmon is more elegant and would work best for a homemade weekend meal.
Filets are probably the most popular cut of salmon. Filets are versatile, lend itselves to many different ways of cooking, and it's easy to remove pin bones from them, making it easy to eat. You should leave the skin on if you are pan-frying your fish - the skin will become crunchy. Poached fish should not have any skin before you even start cooking.
One person on average eats about six ounces of boneless skinless filet.
Wild vs. Farmed
Wild salmon is very different from farmed. It comes from Pacific Ocean and has silky smooth texture and vermilion hue. It is less fatty and better taste. It is also more expensive and not always available. The season for wild salmon is from May to September. Chinook or King Salmon is the most prized of all.
Farmed salmon comes from Atlantic salmon stock and is pink because of the color of the feed. Wild salmon has all but disappeared from Atlantic Ocean. The meat is rich, mild in flavor, but lacks the salinity of wild salmon. Some pockets of salmon growers exist in the Pacific Ocean and around New Zealand, but most of it comes from Atlantic, where there are plenty of health and environmental concerns for farmed fish.
Atlantic char is a small fish from Salmonidae family that is farmed raised in the very North. It has deep orange-pink flesh and more delicate texture. This fish is perfect for cooking whole.
Genetically modified salmon with growth hormone from King salmon has been approved for sale.
Pinbones are flexible bones down the sides and the middle of filets. The inch-long bones stick up in rows and are easy to remove with needle pliers. You don't have to do that, but it will make a prettier looking meal and will be easier to eat, especially for kids.
Cooking on the stovetop:
This method means that you are cooking fish on a bit of fat, relatively fast, on a high heat. You can make salmon filets for you family any time during the weekdays. All you have to do is melt some butter in the skillet, season the fish to your liking, cook for about six minutes skinless side down, turn around and cook another two minutes on the skin.
This method is very simple and gives you a perfect clean piece of fish that you can use for salads, dress-up, or serve it in sandwiches. There is no added fat, so this method is popular with health-conscious people.
Cooking instructions: fill a pan with just enough water to cover the filet, season the water with some salt, pepper corns, and bay leafs, lower the fish in. Then bring it to boil, lower the temperature and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes. If you want to add more flavor to the fish, try different seasoning or use bullion instead of water.
Cooking in the oven
This preparation does wonders for a nice meal. The entrée is easy to make and looks beautiful. You can also work on other parts of the meal while the fish is cooking. Just make sure you don't overcook it.
Searing and roasting
To get the succulent golden brown fish you should sear the fish on the skillet first, make the skin crispy. Then transfer the whole pan into the oven and finish the cooking process. You will only need to sear the fish for about 3 minutes on butter and then cook it in 400 degrees oven for 8-10 minutes.
If you have a larger number of fish fillets or a larger side of fish, use this method for ultimate result. You will not get crunchy skin, but the meal will be delicious and beautiful. To make the filets look the most beautiful, try garnishing them with colorful seasoning or glaze on top.
Simply heat the oven to 400 degrees, season the fish in the pan, and cook it in the oven for about 12 minutes to get a perfect golden medium piece of fish. Seasoning is totally up to you.
Broiling will give you a great looking burnish on top and mild flavor underneath. Try doing it on a wooden plank. You can buy an untreated cedar or apple wood plank in most fish departments and soak it in the water before use. Don't use pine plank as it will give resin flavor to fish.
Heat the oven broiler to very hot and place the plank with fish about 4 inches from the heat source. Broil the fish for about 3-5 minutes. Turn it off and serve fish if you like the middle slightly undercooked. If you want it to get it more cooked, leave it in the turned-off oven for a few minutes.
Some people like mayonnaise on top of broiled fish because it does not only look good, but it keeps the flavor in. The mayo can be seasoned too.
This fancy sounding name is really simple to make and produces very moist fish. You simply wrap your seasoned fish into parchment paper of foil and bake it until done. You can leave the packet to be unwrapped at the table or serve it out. The steam locked inside makes the fish very mild and moist. Cook this concoction for about 10-15 min on 400.
Grilling is an old and authentic way to cook fish. Smoke will give it earthy, smoky, deep flavor. This meal just screams summer evenings with wonderful company of friends. If you have a large grill, you can cook the whole salmon this way.
Salmon steaks are very easy to handle on the grill. Fillets require more skill, but you can get a grill basket for this purpose or for those times when you have to cook more than one piece.
You should make your grill pretty hot, brush salmon with olive oil and season it, then place it on the gate skin down. Cook for about 5-6 minutes and then flip. If the fish is sticking to the grill gate, it is not ready to be flipped. Cook for another 3-10 minutes until it reaches your desired doneness.
Salmon, just like tuna, can be enjoyed raw or fully done. Think sushi.
The best way to tell if your fish is done is to look at the color. Stick the knife to the thickest part of the fish and look inside. The rare middle will be the same color as raw fish was, medium will be light pink, and the medium-rare will fall in the middle.