We’re not surprised to hear that salmon often ends up on your grocery list — the fish is good for you (it’s a source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and potassium) and it tastes delicious. Plus, it can be cooked in a ton of different ways, which means you can enjoy it again and again without getting bored. It can be poached, broiled, grilled, baked, and served alongside your favorite vegetables and sauces. What are you waiting for? Use these tips for how to cook salmon perfectly, no matter the method.
First thing’s first: before you start cooking, you need to make sure you have all the right tools. A slotted turner or pair of tongs can be used for pretty much every method of cooking salmon. You’ll also benefit from having cookware that can be transferred from the stove to the oven, like our stainless steel set — it can be used on gas, electric, and induction ranges, and can withstand temperatures up to 500°F.
Once you’ve got your equipment sorted, it’s time to make some choices about the salmon you want to cook. Do you prefer Sockeye or Coho? Do you like steaks or fillets? Do you like the skin on or off? We recommend opting for wild salmon fillets with the skin on – these are more sustainable than farmed varieties, and are easier to handle and cook. Whether you leave the skin on is entirely up to you, but we love its texture and flavor. Along with your fillet, consider dressings, seasonings, and sauces. We love whipping up a batch of blender hollandaise to go with our finished fish.
The number one thing people ask when cooking salmon and other seafood is, “when is it done?” It’s natural to have some anxiety about this — after all, we’ve all been warned about the perils of eating undercooked fish. But we don’t want to make the rookie mistake of serving dry, overcooked salmon either. While regulations and guidelines for internal temperature do exist, there are ways to tell when salmon is cooked without a thermometer. When the thickest part of a salmon fillet can be easily flaked with a fork, you can trust it’s done.
Now that you know what you’re working with, it’s time to get cooking! Here’s the lowdown on how to cook salmon perfectly every single time.
This is a hands-off approach to cooking salmon. Simply heat the broiler on high, place the salmon skin-side down on a lined baking sheet or in an oven-safe pan, and cook for five to eight minutes. You can add whatever seasoning you want beforehand — a good dose of salt and pepper, and a dollop of mayonnaise to keep it moist is foolproof and delicious.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Then, once you’ve seasoned your fillets — we like soy sauce mixed with brown sugar, but lemon slices and fresh dill is a classic combo — place them skin-side down on a lined baking sheet, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes.
It sounds fancy (and we’ll admit, there are a couple extra steps involved), but we think it’s worth it — especially for a dinner party when you want your main course to make a statement. Season your fillets, place each in the center of a piece of parchment paper with the veggies of your choice, and then fold the edges and pinch it tightly closed. After 10 to 15 minutes in a 400°F oven, you’ll be serving puffed up parchment envelopes that open to reveal a perfectly cooked piece of fish.
This one’s easy. Heat a small amount of oil or butter in a medium-sized stainless steel fry pan, and sear your salmon fillets for three minutes. When that’s done, transfer the pan to the oven and roast for an additional eight to 10 minutes.
Heat your stainless steel fry pan on medium-high, and then coat the bottom with a fat of your choice (butter or olive oil is best). Once the pan is hot, add the fillets skin-side up and cook for about six minutes. Once you can easily slide your spatula underneath (if it’s tricky, wait a little longer), flip and cook skin-side down for another four minutes.
Craving the taste of barbecue, but the weather’s not cooperating? Grab your grill pan! This tool mimics what it’s like cooking on a gas or charcoal grill. Brush your salmon with a little bit of olive oil, cook skin-side down for about five minutes, and then flip and cook it for another five.
In a stainless steel sauté pan, bring one cup of water with one cup of white wine to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and add your salmon (this is one cooking method where you might want to remove the skin first), and then cover and cook for about 10 minutes.
There you have it — how to cook salmon perfectly, every single time. Now that you’ve got some more confidence in the kitchen, browse our stainless steel cookware collection to find the fry pans, sauté pans, and stock pots you need for your next cooking endeavor.
Photos: Elena Eryomenko / Shutterstock, Caroline Attwood / Unsplash, Monkey Business Images / Shutterstock