How To Cook Salmon To Flakey, Tender Perfection Every Time
Perfectly cooked salmon is a beautiful thing. That rich, oceany flavor, the meaty yet flakey texture. It’s a light meal that’s still so incredibly satisfying. Cooking salmon is one of those things that’s deceptively easy, but can be intimidating at first. After all, the last thing you want is to take that gorgeous salmon fillet and waste it by overcooking it.
Luckily, once you get the hang of cooking salmon it’s incredibly simple and quick. All you need is to be able to recognize the signs of the fish being cooked through before passing the point of no return. Soon enough it’ll be second nature and you’ll be able to cook perfect salmon every time.
Why Seafood Cooks Faster Than Other Meats
If you’re not used to cooking fish, it takes much less time than other meat. This is because their muscle fibers are much shorter than those of land animals, so the collagen breaks down faster. If you put salmon into your oven with no idea what to expect, there’s a good chance you’ll overcook it because it doesn’t take very long at all to reach perfection. If you do leave it in the oven (or stovetop or grill) for too long, it’ll be dry, too firm, and generally disappointing. A waste of money, a waste of fish and a waste of time.
Luckily, there’s signs to watch for that will let you know when your salmon fillet has reached its full potential and is ready to stop cooking. The first thing that will be evident to your senses is the white stuff that forms on top of the fish as it cooks. It’s a protein called albumin that is in liquid form when the fish is raw, but coagulates when it cooks.
Some albumin is fine but if there’s a lot of it, you need to take the fish out of the oven immediately because it’s either overcooked or very close to it. However, don’t rely on the presence of albumin as a sign that the fish is nearing doneness, either - it can vary a lot from fish to fish and there may be none at all, no matter how much it’s cooked.
How To Test Salmon For Doneness
To test if the salmon is cooked, simply press down on the top of the fillet. The flesh should flake apart easily, into large pieces - but they should be moist and tender, not crumbly. As soon as the fish begins to flake in this way when pressed, it’s finished cooking. Any longer spent exposed to the heat will cause it to become overcooked and dry. Cooking salmon is an activity where you need to stay focused and not forget what you’re doing, or else the end result will inevitably suffer.
You can also test a salmon fillet for doneness the same way you would a cake - with a metal stick or a fork. It needs to be metal so that the heat from the cooked fish transfers directly to the tool - a wooden stick won’t work properly. Simply poke the cake testing tool down into the flesh of the salmon, making sure to penetrate through the thickest part of the fillet.
When you remove it, test the warmth of the stick on the skin underneath your bottom lip or the inside of your wrist. If it’s warm, the fish is done. If it’s got a cool spot, it’s not done cooking yet. And if it’s hot, unfortunately your salmon is overcooked.
Wild Caught Fish Is Always The Best Choice
As with all fish, it’s very important to choose wild caught salmon over farmed. Farmed salmon are fed processed fish feed and exposed to large amounts of antibiotics, pesticides and other chemicals. Their nutritional value is vastly different from wild salmon.
Farmed salmon contains much higher levels of fat (about three times as much) especially omega-6 fatty acids which most Americans already consume far too many of. It has 46% more calories, most of which are from fat. It’s also quite deficient in vitamins and minerals compared with wild caught salmon.
Responsibly Sourced, Sustainable Salmon
Our sockeye salmon are 100% wild and never given any additives or antibiotics. These fish are prized for their outstanding flavor, high oil content and vibrantly colored red orange flesh. They come from the pristine, cold waters of the Pacific off the coast of Alaska. This area has the greatest resources of wild salmon in the world.
Our fishery is carefully managed for sustainability and returns tens of millions of salmon to these waters each year. These wild caught Alaskan sockeye salmon are outstanding in flavor, texture and health benefits. This fish is extremely versatile and easy to cook.