Seafood and fish: You have fish or shellfish that everyone seems to love, no exceptions, and then some people are so-so with. People love shrimp. People love lobster. People love miso glazed Alaskan black cod, though not everyone may be familiar with it. Many people love salmon, but aren’t always quite sure what to do with it. If over cooked, or let to ‘age’ in the fridge, the salmon can easily acquire a ‘fishy’ or oily and tough flavor.
Salmon is an oily fish, or a fatty fish. That’s one reason why it’s so good, and why it’s so easy to ruin. If properly handled and cooked, salmon should be mild, sweet, full of flavor and delicious.
Another issue on salmon is the selection. A good fish market will usually have 2 – 3 varieties of salmon at any given time, depending on the time of year. Chilean farm raised, Atlantic farm raised, North Atlantic, Wild Alaskan king, loch duart, Norwegian, sockeye, steelhead (it’s a trout, but we handle it like salmon) arctic char, and so on. Best bet is to buy what’s seasonal. Salmon will ‘run’ or leave the ocean and swim upstream to mate, and when they do this, they are at their peak of nutrients, fats and flavor. In other words, when they run, it’s their season. And that’s when they’re at their best.
Really fresh seasonal salmon does not require much additional flavor. The key is to not over cook it, and make sure the skin is removed before cooking. Salmon skin contains a lot of the oil and when cooked, will impart that fish oil flavor into the rest of the meat. Cook fresh salmon to medium and no further. It should be dark pink in the middle of the thickest part.
If you’re not sure how to prepare salmon, here’s what I would do, and when I make salmon for myself, it’s what I normally do:
Mildly cured Salmon with dill
Cook time: 10 min
Inactive cook time: 1 hr
1 filet of salmon, skin removed, patted dry
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
zest of 1 lemon
cracked black pepper
1 cup fresh dill, rough chop
Mix everything together and cover the salmon with the cure, both sides. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove refrigerator and rinse the salmon. Pat dry.
Heat a grill to med high heat, clean and oil the grates. Spray the salmon with cooking spray. Grill for about 5 minutes on the non-skin side, flip and grill 2 minutes on the other side. The salmon should be medium and still dark pink in the middle of the thickest part (carry-over cooking will continue to cook the fish for a few minutes after you take it off the grill).
Serve right away.
My all-time favorite salmon is cedar plank salmon and I’ll do that recipe later. It’s too good to pass up. But this is a great one, like salmon cooking for beginners. I hope you like it as much as I do.