How To Cook Salmon: The Ultimate Fish Guide

If you’re a fish eater, it’s likely that salmon is one of your staple foods. Widely reonowned as one of the healthiest fish on the market, salmon is packed full of essential omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D and protein. Salmon tastes great, low in calories and low in saturated fat. Read on to learn more about salmon’s healthy benefits and suggestions on cooking salmon.

About Salmon

While the season for different species of salmon ranges from early summer to late fall, it’s possible to find fresh salmon available at your local market. You may hear the terms “farmed” and “wild” used – these are describing the types of salmon available. You will have to decide whether you want to buy wild salmon, generally from the Pacific Ocean or Alaska, or farmed fish. Arguments for both exist — those who advocate for wild salmon say that farmed fish has damaged the wild fish population by escaping and sharing diseases with wild salmon; others believe that wild salmon has a fishier and somewhat stronger flavor than its farmed counterpart.

Health Benefits of Salmon

Many of the health benefits from salmon come from the fact that it is high in omega-3 essential fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids cannot be made by the body, making it important that we eat foods that contain them. The omega-3s found in salmon can reduce the risk of unwanted inflammation, and strengthen the immune and circulatory systems. Salmon fillets are an excellent source of selenium,  high in protein, niacin and vitamin B12, and a good source of phosphorus, magnesium and vitamin B6.

Salmon Supermarket Buying Guide

Most of us have had some experience buying fish at the market before, but if you are a recent convert to salmon or fish, or this is your first time preparing and cooking salmon, here are a few things to consider when buying it:

1. Buy salmon with the skin still on.

2. Try to buy a whole salmon side or filet that is from the thickest part of the fish.

3. As a general fish-buying rule, account for around 6 ounces of fish per person.

4. Ask for a “center cut” single piece of salmon and then cut it into appropriate portions when you get home.

5. Skin the salmon and remove the bones before cooking if possible.

6. When removing the bones, pull them out one at a time going with the grain of the fish.

Watch: How to Buy Fresh Fish

Depending on what you’re in the mood for for dinner, here are 4 ways to cook salmon:

1) Poaching Salmon

Poaching, known as a moist-heat cooking method, is a cooking process whereby food is simmered in just enough water that barely covers it. It’s different from boiling in that it requires less water than boiling and a lower-temperature. Poaching is one of the healthiest ways to cook salmon since neither butter nor oil is used. As we all know, water has zero calories!

When it comes to poaching, know that:

1. You can poach a whole fish in water or a court bouillon.

2. Improvise if you don’t have the tools for poaching. In most cases a deep roasting pan can be used. For fillets of salmon, a deep skillet will do.

3. Most recipes instruct you to just cover the fish with liquid (whether water, wine, a mixture of both, or something else entirely), and poach for 8-10 minutes until fish is opaque.

4. You can also poach salmon in your dishwasher if all else fails. Just be sure foil is sealed properly. It will take about 50 minutes on a regular wash and dry cycle.

2) Grilling Salmon

One of the simplest ways to cook salmon is to grill it. But when it comes to grilling, there are a few things to keep in mind:

1. You can grill on your oven by purchasing a specially-designed tabletop grill.

2. Barbecue outside on nice days. It doesn’t take long to cook on a grill, and you’ll find that the fish keeps a lot of its original flavor.

3. It is much easier to grill a salmon steak than a whole salmon. But if you do choose to grill a whole salmon, you will need to make about 3 slashes on each side of the fish.

4. Ensure that the fish is placed as far from the heat as possible, which will prevent it from burning. Heat the grill for at least 5 minutes before you place the fish onto it.

5. Place the oil on the actual fish, not on the grill. This will prevent it from sticking.

6. Season salmon however you choose but avoid salt before cooking as this will eliminate the juices that you want to keep in the fish.

Grilled Salmon Recipes

Grilled Cedar-Plank Salmon

Grilled Salmon with a Chili Spice Rub

Teriyaki Grilled Salmon

3) Baking Salmon

While baking salmon takes longer than other methods of cooking, it’s sure to be a hit with your entire family based on the resulting  delicious taste and texture. When baking salmon, you’ll need a baking dish, as well as anything you wish to use as seasoning. Just a bit of lemon and olive oil can be a nice addition, since baked salmon is quite flavorful on its own. You can also choose an add any number of spices and marinades, including store-bought mixes or a fruit glaze.

4) Broiling or Roasting Salmon

Roasting the salmon in the oven will give it a slightly crispier taste. Again, you should place oil on the actual fish itself rather than the baking tray. If you want to get the full flavor of the fish, then you may want to consider slow roasting it. Place the salmon on a lower heat (around 200 degrees F) on the middle shelf in the oven for 30 minutes. Check regularly and turn the fish over once to ensure equal cooking on both sides.