I used to avoid cooking fish at home. I was scared I would mess it up, stink up the house or both. So imagine my surprise when I gave it a try and realized that it’s quite easy and it takes very little time. Here are three ways to cook salmon that are foolproof and truly delicious including a no flip grilling tip so half the fish doesn’t end up falling between the grates!
My clients often tell me that they don’t like fish. When I poke at their answer a bit, I usually find that this isn’t the whole truth. They admit to enjoying fish when they go out to eat but they avoid it at home because it’s overwhelming to make or, “it never tastes as good”. I get it. I used to feel the same way! Then I taught myself a few simple techniques and it changed the way I think about fish, which now makes a regular appearance in our weeknight meal routine.
How to Buy Salmon
- I’m a purist so I try to buy wild caught salmon whenever it’s available. It’s “cleaner”, more nutrient dense, lower in overall fat but more rich in the anti-inflammatory fats that we aim to consume when we choose this type of fish.
- Fresh over Frozen? While I prefer the flavor and texture of fresh wild-caught salmon, it’s not always available and it can be expensive. Frozen is usually less expensive, available all year round, easy to purchase in bulk and to store, and just as nutrient dense as its fresh counterpart.
- Avoid fish that smells fishy. Easy as that! Instead, chose fish that has a mild and clean oceany scent.
Defrosting Frozen Salmon
It’s dinner time and the fish is still in the freezer. We’ve all been there but thankfully it’s no problem.
- Remove the salmon from the freezer and place it in a plastic bag, if it isn’t already.
- Submerge the fish in a bowl of room temperature water. Change the water in ten minutes. It won’t take much longer to thaw it.
Salmon Cooking Basics
- Make sure your fish is thawed prior to cooking
- Pat the fish dry before seasoning
- Keep the skin-on whenever possible. You can always remove it after the cooking process
- The fishy kitchen smell is usually a result of overcooking the salmon!
This is my favorite way to cook salmon as I pop it in the oven and forget about it. There is the slow roasting method and the quick cooking method. I’ll give you both.
- Slow Roast: Pre-heat the oven to 275. Season your salmon filet with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake, skin-side down, for 15-18 minutes. As a rule of thumb, for every inch of thickness, bake 15 minutes.
- Quick Cook: Pre-heat the oven to 400. Season your salmon filet with olive oil, salt and pepper. Bake, skin-side down, for 10-12 minutes. As a rule of thumb, for every inch of thickness, bake 10 minutes.
- In a Packet: lay a 12″ square piece of parchment paper on your cutting board. Place the salmon filet, skin side down, in the middle of the sheet. Season with salt, pepper and olive oil. You can even add some herbs or a piece of lemon. Gather the sides of the sheet and roll them down to seal the packet. Bake @400 for 10-14 minutes.
Pan Steaming Salmon
I love this method as I still get to set a timer and forget about it.
- In a saute pan with a lid, arrange two lemon slices that will act as a rack for the fish. Add 1/4 cup of white wine, 1/2 cup water, 1 tablespoon of capers, two cloves of garlic and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Bring the liquid to a simmer. Place the filet, skin side down, on the lemon slices. Season it with olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover the pan and “steam” the salmon for 6-8 minutes.
- The No Flip Method: treat your grill like an oven and lay the seasoned salmon, grill side down on the grates then close the lid and walk away. In ten minutes the salmon will be cooked through and ready to eat. Note that the temp of the grill should be medium-high or around 400.
- On a plank: if the idea of grilling fish on the grates freaks you out, try a wooden plank. Soak grilling planks in water for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking. Using a medium-high heat, around 400, place the plank on the grill and your salmon upon it. Close the lid and cook for 12-14 minutes.
Season Your Salmon
While you can keep it simple with olive oil, salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Here are a few fun ways to take your salmon dinner to the next level.
- Top it with a fruit based salsa like one with pineapple and mango.
- Top with with fresh herbs like dill, parsley, chives, scallions, cilantro, thyme, rosemary or oregano. You can do this before you cook it or finish the fish with the freshly chopped herbs.
Salmon Recipes to Try