When you take innocent ingredients and mess around with them to make a meal, it can be easy to screw it up. And this is especially true for salmon. Here are a few common mistakes people make when they cook this delicate, and delicious, fish.
Any meal that features salmon has to start with actually sourcing your salmon. “What are you doing?” “Only selling the finest farm-raised salmon in the county, that’s all.” “Yeah, they’re all free range.
No nets, no cages. They can go wherever they want.” “Plus we have smoked salmon.” But, fresh or frozen, checking out the appearance is a good way to assess fish quality. Different varieties of salmon will have variations in color and flavor, but in general, brighter colors are better than pale ones.
As Epicurious notes: avoid any fish that looks dried out, or has a brown color instead of uniform reds and pinks. “Craig. Can I use y’alls microwave right quick” When you’re in a rush to eat, it can be tempting to lean on the microwave to unfreeze your food.
But this doesn’t work at all for salmon. Since microwaves pretty much never thaw things evenly, and, considering fish is more sensitive to heat than many other foods, this uneven heating will result in rubbery, dry fillets that even your cat’s not gonna eat.
“No thanks I’m full” As a general rule, avoid thawing fish using any heat at all. Opt instead for thawing overnight in the fridge, or in a sealed bag under cold running water. “Can I change my answer” Removing fish bones is a tedious task.
But no matter how well you prepare that expensive fillet, all will be forgotten when your guests are choking on bones. Even if you buy a piece of salmon from the fishmonger, and the larger bones have already been removed, there still could be tiny pin bones remaining.
If you run a knife against the grain you’ll feel the ends of the bones poking out of the flesh. With a clean pair of needle nose pliers and a bit of patience, you can carefully pull out all the remaining bones one by one.
Definitely season your salmon, but only just before you start to cook it. Since salt can be used for preserving meat and fish, sprinkling it on your fish too early might actually start to cure your meal before you cook it.
And seasoning the cooking water is especially important if you’re poaching your fish. The seasoning should not only be rubbed on the salmon, but added to the water as well, that way it doesn’t “wash off” during the cooking process.
Try poaching salmon with white wine, shallots, and dill, then finish with freshly ground pepper and a squeeze of lemon. “You are beautiful, Susie Salmon” If salmon were an opera singer, it would be the prima donna.
Talented and deserving of praise, but also super sensitive and egotistical. “Your public needs you.” “We need you too.” “Wouldn’t you rather have your precious little ingenue” Treat a piece of salmon right, by giving it its space and a little “me time,” and it will totally melt in your mouth.
But smother it with way too much attention, and it falls apart under the pressure. “I’m melting, melting” In the case of salmon, this means that once you’ve put it on the heat, leave it alone! Salmon cooks best when it’s placed over a fairly high heat for just long enough to turn the flesh opaque.
If you cover the fish while it cooks, you may not need to turn it at all, but if it’s cooking on the grill, turn it over just once, about halfway through. Any dish that requires perfect timing can tempt nervous cooks to check in a little too many times, but if you don’t leave it alone, you’ll worry your salmon all the way into the trash.
It turns out, overcooking your salmon may be the biggest mistake of them all. No one likes tough, rubbery fish, but the line between sushi and fish leather is not very wide. Some cooking methods, like poaching or wrapping in foil, are safer than others, but no matter how you apply the heat, there’s only one result if you do it for too long.
“There’s just no way the salmon can, can survive in those sorts of environments” The ideal time to remove salmon from the heat is just before it’s done, so you can allow it to sit for a few minutes. The residual heat will finish the cooking process, and if you’re still unsure you can use a meat thermometer, aiming for about 145 degrees.
The more often you cook, and as you get to know your own preferences, you might decide to lower that final temperature just a little bit. But, be warned, if you typically make too many of these mistakes, your family and friends might not let you make dinner, ever again.