Hunting for dinner tonight? Salmon is the answer. Full of omega-3 fatty acids and protein yet mild in flavor, this non-fishy fish is a great choice if you’re hoping to add variety to your main dish routine. The best part? Salmon can be cooked in so many different ways (pan, oven, grill, you name it). All you need is a little salt and pepper, and occasionally dill, parsley, lemon, and garlic, and the job is done.
A few important things to keep in mind when cooking salmon:
- Your salmon fillets have likely been boned if you bought them at the grocery store, but there may be a few thin pin bones that are located throughout the flesh. You can easily remove the bones from raw salmon with clean tweezers, but they’re also very easy to pick out post-cooking. Table manners be damned!
- Cooked salmon is done when it’s easily flaked: Just stick a fork in and try to pull up a small section.
- If you prefer the texture and flavor of rarer salmon, cook the fish for two minutes less; but remember the USDA recommends the safest minimum internal temperature of fish is 145 degrees.
Baked salmon should be tender and just the faintest bit crisp on the edges. All it needs is a bit of oil or butter brushed over the top with a generous seasoning of salt and pepper. If using a sauce, pour that on too, then toss in the oven for about 12 minutes.
Essentially an upside-down grill, the broiler gets super hot (up to 500 degrees!), which gives food a more crunchy, caramelized crust than standard oven-roasting. If you’re itching for a little more texture in your salmon, this is the way to go. We love this simple method, which comes with a recipe for a chopped herb spread—though you could use store-bought pesto, or even season simply with olive oil, salt, pepper.
Marinating salmon fillets before throwing them on the grill is the tastiest way to pair the mild fish with a smoky char. And can we talk about those gorgeous grill marks? Grilled salmon cooks fast—about three minutes per side is all you need. The best way to avoid the fish from sticking is to brush the grill grates well with oil or pick up a nonstick grill pan.
The secret to restaurant-quality seared salmon is to get the pan screaming hot before adding the fish. In terms of seasoning, you won’t need more than olive oil, salt, and pepper. Cook on each side for four to five minutes, then drizzle with your favorite sauce for extra flavor before serving.
Salmon can be poached in the oven or on the stove, and both use the same easy method: surrounding the fish with boiling liquid. A combination of water and dry white wine is our favorite poaching liquid, flavor-wise. We love this simple pan technique: Bring an herb and citrus-infused mix of water and wine to a simmer, add salmon, then cook for five to 10 minutes.
No true classic bagel sandwich is complete without salt-cured salmon—also known as “lox” (but not to be confused with "smoked salmon"). Fun fact: Salt-cured salmon is never cooked or smoked. It's basically raw salmon that marinates in salt and sugar for 48 hours. The process isn't hard, but it might test your patience. And hey, we won’t blame you if you pick up a package of the pre-cured fish instead.
We love this method for steaming salmon, because it requires no fancy equipment. Place a pie dish (or a steamer basket, if you have one) into a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Place lemon slices in the pie dish, and pour one inch of water into the large pot. Bring to a simmer, then add salmon to the pie dish. Cover and cook for seven to nine minutes.