Tips & Techniques for Wild Alaska Salmon
Updated: Aug 14, 2022
Here is what I know about cooking salmon: trust the fish... and yourself. Salmon doesn’t require heroics from us to be delicious—we just need to be optimistic and informed, then cook with love.
First, salt Salt your fish before you do anything else. Salmon is naturally salty, so I use about 1/4 teaspoon per pound. If you plan to apply a glaze or sauce, use a little less. You can also impart salt with soy sauce or fish sauce to achieve a different character. Salt at least 30 minutes before cooking to allow the flavor to sink in. Brines are great, too (see below).
Try brining Brining is a great way to get salt and other flavors like citrus and fresh herbs all the way through your salmon. It also makes the fish moist and tender. Brine salmon for 20 minutes, then drain well and pat dry before cooking.
Apply fat generously Most salmon is lean, so be generous with oil, butter, or other fats, which add richness while carrying the fish's natural flavor. A layer of fat also prevents moisture from wicking away during cooking.
Time and temp I cook salmon at 300 degrees for about 15minutes. A gentle heat keeps the fish from getting dry and doesn't force the white proteins (albumin) out of the meat. On the grill, I use a medium-low heat. Others swear by 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Experiment and see what you like best.
Know the signs of doneness Here are some signs of doneness in your salmon: Flesh has turned opaque on the top and sides. Color has changed from orange to pink. Skin and meat begin to separate. Clear oils begin pooling at the skin. Aroma develops. Gentle sizzling begins. A fork slides in easily. Meat is firm to the touch, but not rigid.
Undercook slightly This is the most important thing. Remove salmon from heat just before it's 100% done. It will finish cooking to a moist conclusion on its own via residual heat. Allow to rest at least 5 min. before serving.
Bonus tip: oil the skin, too Coat salmon skin with cooking spray to prevent sticking. This is especially helpful when cooking fish on the grill. No one wants to leave those crispy bits behind!