Salmon is an often recommended course for anyone trying to lose weight or eat a healthier diet. It is a staple of many healthy diets, like Keto and Mediterranean, but nobody can eat baked salmon every week and cooking salmon can be hard if you don’t know what you’redoing so here’s a post on 3 methods you can use next time you want to make a fresh delicious, and healthy meal for you or your family!
There are five types of salmon: Atlantic, Coho, Chinook (aka King Salmon), Sockeye, and Pink. The most popular type in the United States is Atlantic salmon followed by Coho.
Atlantic Salmon – This type ranges from Canada to northern Spain. It’s a large fish that can weigh up to 100 pounds and live for up to 15 years.
Coho Salmon – This type ranges from the Pacific Northwest to central California. It’s a medium-sized fish that can weigh up to 30 pounds and live for up to six years.
Chinook (aka King) Salmon – This type is found in the North Pacific Ocean. It’s the largest of all the salmon species and can weigh up to 130 pounds and live for up to seven years.
Sockeye Salmon – This type is found in the North Pacific Ocean and ranges from Alaska to northern Japan. It’s a medium-sized fish that can weigh up to 20 pounds and live for up to seven years.
Pink Salmon – This type is found in the North Pacific Ocean and ranges from Alaska to northern Japan. It’s the smallest of all the salmon species and can weigh up to eight pounds and live for up to four years. This is the leanest wild salmon.
Wild-caught salmon are caught in their natural habitat, while farmed salmon are raised in man-made environments, such as pens or tanks.
Wild varieties of salmon are typically leaner and have a higher omega-three fatty acid content than farm-raised salmon. They also tend to have a more intense flavor.
Farm-raised salmon are typically fattier and have a lower omega-three fatty acid content than wild-caught salmon. They also tend to have a milder flavor. Farm-raised seafood can be beneficial by smoothing out seasonal variations in our food supply chains. Both farm-raised salmon and wild-caught salmon can be found in organic, non-gmo varieties, depending on your location. Check with your local seafood market to learn more about the specific types of salmon they sell and where the salmon comes from.
Nobody wants overcooked salmon and cooking fish is much different than other types of meat so use the guide below to choose which temperature you want to aim for. My personal favorite is around 120 – 125 Fahrenheit. I use a meat thermometer, part of every chef’s essentials, to take the salmon off of the heat around 118 Fahrenheit
110 Fahrenheit or Less – This temperature means the salmon is raw. Salmon at this temperature is used for sushi. Only eat sashimi-grade salmon if you’re going to eat it at this temperature.
110 – 125 Fahrenheit – This is the salmon equivalent of a medium-rare steak. The salmon should be juicy and not overdone even towards the upper end of this range at the low 120s.
125 – 140 Fahrenheit – You should be careful not to overcook the salmon here, as it will be getting close to medium or well-done. You will start to see a white gunk ooze out of the salmon, known as albumin, and the fish will start to dry out as the connective tissue breaks down and become chalky.
Over 140 Fahrenheit – The salmon is done and overcooked at this point and will be dry and unappealing.
This is a matter of preference, but I generally prefer skin-on salmon. The skin helps to keep the salmon moist during cooking and adds a bit of flavor. It also helps to protect the flesh of the salmon from overcooking, especially when pan searing.
That being said, there are some drawbacks to cooking with the skin on. First, it can be difficult to remove the skin after cooking. Second, the skin can sometimes be greasy or oily. If you’re not a fan of salmon skin, I’d recommend removing it before cooking and using the sous vide method.
Salmon is a lighter meat, so all types of fresh herbs and seasonings can work well. Just think of all the chicken recipes you love, they’ll probably go great with salmon too! Of course, it will depend on your own personal preferences but here are a few of my favorite salmon seasoning tips and combinations.
- Shio Koji Salmon – This is my absolute favorite salmon seasoning method. Watch this shio koji video to learn more.
- Lemon Pepper & Garlic – a classic for chicken wings and other light meats that’s amazing on salmon, add some lemon wedges for a classic restaurant touch.
- Beet powder & Lemongrass – Wonderful for Asian inspired cuisine!
This method is best with skin-on fillets cooking for only up to 2 people.
- Preheat a pan with olive oil over high heat and dry off your chosen salmon fillet.
- Lower heat to a medium high heat and place the salmon fillet skin-side down in the pan, while holding down with a flexible spatula to ensure even heating.
- Cook on skin side on the medium heat setting until the skin is crisp and detaches easily from the pan.
- Use an instant read thermometer to know when the salmon is at the right temperature for you.
- Flip the salmon over briefly, less than 30 seconds, to sear the non-skin side for a nice browning effect.
Salmon sous vide is a very forgiving cooking method, meaning that you can’t really overcook the salmon. This makes it a great cooking method for beginners.
If you have a sous vide smart cooker just set your perfect temperature and you can leave to run some errands or take care of chores and it’ll come out perfectly!
This method is great for quick easy dinners or large parties! Broiling salmon is fast, since it only takes less than 10 minutes of cooking time, depending on your oven! The only downside is it might take some experimentation with your oven to get it just right.
Simply place the salmon (skin-down if it’s skin-on salmon) on a rimmed baking sheet and under the broiler on High for about 5 minutes for fillets of a half inch thickness (thicker fillets will take longer). This should get your salmon to the perfect internal temperature, but if the temperature is still too low try it for a few more minutes, no more than 3 at a time.
The great thing about this method is that it works just as well with a toaster oven if you’re only cooking for two or with a real oven so you can host a whole dinner party with perfectly cooked salmon. If you need to cook a large batch you may have to use your oven, just like you would if you were making toast for a party!
Now that you know all about salmon, experiment and let me know what your favorite cooking methods and tricks are for salmon, it’s one of my favorite dishes!