"One of the best choices in seafood is salmon, mainly because of its omega-3 fatty acids that are truly miraculous in their beneficial effects on the body. So in addition to eating a low calorie, low saturated fat food, you eat one that brings you a true health benefit that you cannot easily get from any other food" - Graham Kerr.
SAUTEING - Graham Kerr
Sautéing is a quick and simple way to cook salmon steaks or fillets. The fish will be a nice gold color on the flesh side and the skin will be crisp enough to eat. Salmon skin is high in heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids so a cooking method that makes it crisp and delicious is a plus.
- Heat a skillet that will fit the number of fillets you want to cook. Don't crowd. Pour a teaspoon of oil in the hot pan and cover the bottom. Make sure it's good and hot before you add the fish.
- Season the salmon with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper. Lay flesh side down in the hot pan. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 3 or 4 minutes or until the top is crisp and golden.
- Turn the fillets, cover the pan, and cook 5 to 7 minutes more. An instant-read thermometer should read 140° to 150°F or the flesh should flake easily when prodded with a fork.
- Squeeze a little lemon juice on each one before serving.
Broiling is another quick and easy way to cook salmon fillets or steaks. It's important to cook the fish all the way through which is more difficult when the heat source is on just one side. To give the bottom a little help, I remove the skin from the fillets (leave steaks as they are) and preheat the broiler pan. Another danger with gas broiling is getting the salmon too dark on top so after about 5 minutes, I lay a piece of foil over the pan to prevent burning.
- Line the broiler pan with foil and place under the broiler while it heats. That way the fish cooks from the bottom as well as the top.
- Remove the skin from the fillets. Steaks can be broiled skin on. Brush both sides with a little olive oil. Season with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper.
- Lay the fish on the hot pan and place in the broiler. Check after 5 minutes to be sure it is not getting too dark on top. Lay a piece of foil over the fish and cook 4 or 5 minutes longer. It's done when an instant-read thermometer reaches 140° to 150°F or it flakes easily when prodded with a fork. (If you are using an electric/convection oven, you may need to increase the broiling time to as much as 10 minutes per side.)
Pan roasting is a chef's trick you should know about. It produces a beautiful golden surface, with a moist and tender inside. You can cook from 1 to 4 fillets at the same time making sure that each one has plenty of space. The salmon will be just cooked through with the times given. If you like it a little more done, increase the time to 4 or even 5 minutes on the second side. If you have an instant-read thermometer, it should read from 140° to 150°F. If you don't have a thermometer, prod with a fork to see if it flakes easily.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Pour a teaspoon of oil into an ovenproof skillet (preferably cast iron) and place in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Remove the skin from the salmon fillets and sprinkle very lightly with salt and pepper.
Barbecued salmon is a hallmark of Northwest cuisine. Native Americans were cooking fish over open fires long before white settlers arrived. Cooks have added lots of different sauces and seasonings over the years, but I like to taste this delicious fish with just a little flavor enhancing salt, pepper, and lemon juice. It's far from plain!
Every barbecue is different, so you may have to adjust the cooking times. I like it cooked all the way through, but never dry. I can achieve that by cooking it a short time on the flesh side, then longer on the skin side.
You might want to use a two-part wire rack that opens up to hold the tender fish fillets. This tool has a long handle and allows you to turn the fillets without tearing or breaking the flesh.
- Heat the barbecue 10 or 15 minutes before cooking the fish.
- Brush or spray olive oil on both sides of the salmon fillets. Season with a light sprinkling of salt and pepper.
- Lay the fillets flesh side down on the hot barbecue. Cook 4 or 5 minutes or until the top is crisp and golden. Turn and cook 8 to 10 minutes longer or until an instant-read thermometer reaches 140° to 150°F or the fish flakes easily when prodded with a fork.
- Transfer to a plate and remove the skin which will be black and no longer edible. Serve with a wedge of lemon.
- Lay the fillets in the hot pan flesh side down and roast 5 minutes. Turn so the side the skin was on is down and roast 3 minutes more.
- Serve with a wedge of lemon.
Gentle poaching is a lovely way to cook salmon fillets or even whole salmon. You can add other herbs and flavorings to the poaching liquid such as bay leaves, sprigs of dill, garlic or slices of lemon. If you choose not to use wine, start with 6 cups of water, add a sliced lemon and a larger onion.
The secret of successful poaching is not to let the water boil. A gentle simmer will ensure a moist, tender result. The skin helps keep the fillet together while cooking, but you may remove it before you serve.
Please try my kitchen paper "lid." Fold a sheet of parchment or waxed paper in quarters and cut it into a circle to fit just inside the sides of the pan. Lay the paper circle on the liquid covering the fish fillets and adjust the heat so that it just trembles. That's the perfect temperature for poaching!
Poaching Liquid for 4 Fillets
1 bottle dry white wine (I prefer dealcoholized chardonnay), 3 cups water, 1/2 teaspoon dried tarragon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 12 peppercorns, 1 small onion—sliced
- Place all the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Partially cover and simmer 20 minutes. Strain and pour into a large shallow pan that fits the number of fillets you are going to poach.
- Lay the fillets, skin side down, into the poaching liquid. They should be completely covered. Add more water to cover if needed. Return to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 10 to 12 minutes or until done through. Test with an instant-read thermometer (140° to 150°F) or with a fork to see if it flakes easily.