How To Cook Salmon Perfectly



I eat a great deal of salmon, I would even go as far as saying that currently salmon is my number one  “animal” protein. I eat salmon, of course, because it tastes good; but what’s in a name? When it comes to salmon, quite a lot actually; because if you’re thinking “farmed” and I’m talking “wild” then you may inclined to think that we are talking about the same thing, but we are not. Wild and farmed salmon are two very different foods, and I beg you not to confuse the two.

Salmon is regarded as one of the best foods that we can eat, partly because it’s chocked full of omega 3 fatty acids- the healthy fats that I go on and on about. Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for the health of our hearts, brains, memory, thoughts, circulation and blood sugar regulation; and we know that salmon is one of the best sources on the planet. So why should we be concerned with whether our salmon is wild or farmed? Well, just like with humans, salmon are what they eat as well; when salmon eat their natural diet in the wild, they become full and rich with beneficial omega 3 fatty acids. However, their farm raised brethren do not eat a diet native to salmon, instead they eat grain- GRAIN! Grain has very little do with what salmon eat in the wild, hence they produce far less omega 3 fatty acids in their bodies.

So if you want to get the most out of your salmon, I think we can all agree that wild is better.

Now, I cook a great deal of fish, but I remember when I didn’t know how to cook salmon. Of course, being trained in the culinary arts, I’ve learned how to cook salmon, however, salmon can be good or it can be great. In my efforts to understand how to make food delicious, I, oftentimes, undertake my own food masterclasses; this past week I decided to learn how to cook salmon perfectly.

Unlike some other types of fish, salmon is very forgiving, due in large part to it’s high fat content; whitefish, which, in most cases, is NOT fatty, and, therefore,  struggles to remain palatable without some expertise. But today I want to talk about how to cook salmon; and as with any cooking technique, please use your senses- touch and sight are supremely important senses to the cooking experience.

So let’s get to it…

  • I use coconut oil as my main cooking oil, it’s high smoke point and itself boasts numerous healthy fats of it’s own; which when paired with salmon, make for a healthy fat smorgasbord. When I embarked on my how to cook salmon masterclass, I tried many oils, coconut oil was hands down the best.
  • The type of pan you use will drastically change your technique and results; if you are using a non stick pan, creating a quality sear on the skin becomes very difficult; so I suggest using a stick resistant pan, that allows for searing but won’t cause too much sticking. Calphalon makes a great stick resistant pan!
  • Speaking of sticking, whenever you are creating a sear, the key is to leave the food alone until it lets you know that it’s ready; meaning, when the salmon is ready to be flipped it will release itself, and flip with ease.
  • It is essential to ensure that your pan isn’t too hot, or else the outside will burn while the inside will still be raw; for optimal results, stick to medium heat, and make sure the coconut oil and pan are hot prior to adding the salmon. When the pan isn’t hot, creating a sear is difficult. And you ALWAYS want to start your salmon with the flesh side down.
  • The thickness and desired doneness of your salmon will depend on how long you cook the salmon after it’s released and been flipped. Touch the salmon, if it feels soft and pliable, it’s still uncooked in the center; if the salmon feels rigid and firm to the touch, it’s done.
  • And my last “how to cook salmon” tip is this, rest; like steak or chicken, salmon benefits from resting when it’s removed from the heat. This allows for carry over cooking, which is when the salmon cooks itself via residual heat AND it makes the salmon juicy and melt in your mouth.

Got it? Good!

This recipe is a simple one, because I believe when learning the fundamentals of anything from how to cook salmon to how to cook kale, it’s essential to keep it simple until the fundamentals are well established.

How To Cook Salmon Recipe

1 tsp coconut oil
3/4 lb wild caught salmon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin

Heat a stick resistant pan on medium heat and melt the coconut oil; season salmon and place in pan, skin side down. Cook until salmon releases and then flip; cook for an additional 3-5 minutes- depends on doneness desired.

Remove from heat, cover and rest for 3 minutes.

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