Cooktop Cove: Don't settle for dry salmon, here are 4 methods to cook it right
Salmon is so tasty that even those who don't really love fish seem to be able to enjoy salmon. And to boot, it's full of omega-3 fatty acids, that vital fat that helps fight many different ailments and conditions and can be a great boost to the brain. No, there is absolutely nothing wrong with salmon. Unless that is, it hasn't been cooked properly and has completely dried out.
Like most fish, salmon doesn't need a long cooking time and because of this, it can quickly become dry and chewy; not to mention that it will completely loose that tenderness that can provide for an almost creamy mouth-feel. But it's not just cooking time that can wreck a perfectly good piece of salmon. Read on to learn the tips that will keep your salmon succulent and juicy, and that will have everyone coming back for more.
1. Know when to season
Heartier cuts of meat such as steak and roasts do well with advance seasoning. This allows the salt to really penetrate into the meat and can even break down the fibers that can end up making it tough. But salmon isn't really meat (just ask any pescatarian) and it doesn't act the same way those other cuts do.
When salmon is sprinkled with salt too soon, the salt quickly starts to leach the moisture out of that beautiful fillet or steak; and the salmon will be dry before it ever touches heat. Instead, it should be lightly sprinkled with salt just before it's placed into a pan, grill, or on a roasting pan to bake. You'll still need to take a few measures to ensure it doesn't dry out, but you'll be off to a really great start.
2. Know when to remove the skin
There really is only one time the skin should be removed from a piece of salmon, and that's when it's being poached. When cooking salmon, that skin acts as a protective barrier between the flesh that can dry out all too easily and the heat of the pan, grill, or baking sheet. In addition to being a great wall between the fish and the heat, it also traps in more of those healthy oils and omega-3s, which helps to keep it juicy and tasty. Unless the salmon is being poached always, always leave the skin on.
3. Know which way it needs to be cooked
This doesn't refer to any one recipe or even one type of cooking method. The truth is, salmon is good just about any way you cook it. But when you're grilling, roasting, or pan-searing the salmon, the skin always needs to be placed down. After all, it is the barrier and so it won't do you any good to have that barrier sitting on top of the fish and not providing a layer between the fish and the pan. Not only will this allow the skin to offer all the protection it can, but this is also the only way to get the skin super crispy, which is quite the delicacy!
4. Know when to flip it
Of course, you'll want to start cooking the fish with the skin side-down, but you will need to flip it at some point in order to cook the other side. And it's important to know when to flip it. Typically this will be at around the 7-minute mark, but salmon comes in all different sizes so you can't tell by time alone. Instead, wait until you can see a white line through the middle—that's the indication that tells you the salmon is halfway through cooking. This is known as albumen, or the protein of the salmon, and it tells you that the salmon has cooked up to that point.
Once you see this line of albumen, flip the salmon over, take it off the heat and let it sit for another 7 - 10 minutes, depending on the size. This rest time will gently cook the salmon the rest of the way through, ensuring that all of the juices remain inside the fish and don't leach out into the pan.
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