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How to Cook with Salmon: Tips, Ideas and Expert Advice

Full disclosure – here at MOWI we’re big fans of perfectly cooked salmon. OK, that’s probably a given considering we started raising salmon in 1964 but our passion for a succulent fillet of well cooked, fresh salmon has never wavered. It’s something that we love so much, we believe everyone should get to enjoy it. That said, even those who are normally super-confident in the kitchen can be a bit apprehensive about fish.

That’s why we wanted to offer up some useful tips, recipes and ideas for how you might like to enjoy your next fillet. Read on for some inspiration sourced from our expert chefs!

How to decide which way to cook your salmon

There are so many different ways to ‘do’ salmon. It’s such a versatile ingredient that lends itself to many different cuisines and cooking methods. In fact that can be a bit of a problem in itself – how do you choose which way to cook your salmon?

Well, what’s the occasion? A quick lunch or dinner… or something a bit bigger like a dinner party where you’re looking to wow your guests? To put it plainly, for an occasion where you’re going to be dishing up, say, four or more servings you probably don’t want to be pan-frying. The average kitchen probably doesn’t have the resources and you’ll have other tasks on your plate, no pun intended. Depending on your know how and the equipment you’ve got available in your kitchen, salmon can also be poached, baked, steamed, cooked in a bag (en papillote) or even BBQ-ed in a banana leaf (to help keep it nice and moist and from sticking to the grill). Pan frying and oven baked seem to be the two most popular and accessible ways to perfect your salmon though. More on those later in this article.

Another aspect to consider is that there’s natural variations in most salmon – for example, the size and cut of the fish has an impact on how best to cook it. A thick piece of salmon would be best cooked on the stove and then finished off in the oven. However, a thinner piece of salmon wouldn’t need to be finished in the oven. Fat content is another variable and depends on where on the salmon your cut comes from. As a general rule of thumb the closer you get to the head, the thicker the cut and the less prone it is to drying out. Our salmon spends its life in the wild waters of Scotland’s west coast, with its tail doing all the work when swimming against the currents. This makes the tailpiece naturally leaner, so if you’re calorie conscious this is the cut for you.

Pan Frying Salmon

Yes, pan frying salmon takes a little bit of practice to get right but it’s a skill that’s well worth mastering, especially for your tastebuds’ sake. There’s only one way to learn… be bold and give it a try. First season your salmon whilst heating up a heavy non-stick frying pan on a nice high heat. Add just enough oil  to stop the salmon from sticking and give the pan a gentle swirl. You can always add more if need be and once your fish starts to cook it’ll release its own natural oils. Add the salmon skin side down and drop the heat down to a medium/low level. The last thing you need at this point is for the skin to stick so gently move the salmon up and down the pan to help avoid this. Depending on the size and thickness of the salmon you then want to cook it for anything between 8-14 minutes. Our fillets, however, have been precisely cut so you can set your timer to 12 minutes and, with the right heat, get perfect results each and every time. Keep control of the heat as you may need to turn it up or down to control how quickly the salmon cooks. Cooking too quickly will burn the skin and the fillet will still be raw in the middle. You’ll know you’ve found the right balance when you see the salmon changing colour and the skin caramelising. Once the salmon has cooked three-quarters of the way through, turn the salmon over onto each side and cook for a couple of minutes more until the whole thing is cooked through. If it’s a particularly thick piece of salmon simply pop the salmon and frying pan in the oven for a couple of minutes to finish it off. There you have it, perfect pan-fried salmon, don’t forget to give your masterpiece a squeeze of lemon to bring those flavours alive!

Oven Baking Salmon

Not ready for frying just yet? No problem, delicious salmon is still a very achievable prospect. Simply place your salmon on a baking tray, season with salt & pepper, drizzle with a little olive oil and pop it in the oven at 180° (fan) for 22 minutes. Voila, a great piece of cooked salmon with very little effort. This method also frees up time to prepare the rest of your meal without worrying about burning the salmon. Less stress, more succulent oven-baked salmon… sound good?

Healthy Ideas for Cooking Salmon

MOWI salmon is naturally rich in protein and omega 3, so if you’re looking for a nutritious meal then you’re off to a great start with a pack of our fresh salmon. To bump up those healthy eating credentials though, you might like to try cooking ‘en papillote’. Or, for the non french speakers who might be reading, cooking your salmon in a bag. It’s simple, clean, keeps your salmon nice and moist whilst trapping in plenty of lovely flavours and aromas. If you’re looking for a straightforward recipe to try this technique, we have just the thing – En papillote salmon with asparagus and baby potatoes.

Fresh, flavoursome and perfect for dinner parties or date night as those salmon parcels can be prepped in advance.

Cooking Salmon for Kids

Our top tip for getting kids into salmon is a simple, yet underused one… panko crumb. If you’re unfamiliar with panko crumb it’s the crispy, crunchy Japanese style golden shell made from bread that coats all kinds of fish, seafood, meats and even vegetables. It’s an easy win for kids as it can give healthy salmon a sneaky ‘chicken nugget’ like appeal. The benefit being that instead of the rather unhealthy credentials of chicken nuggets they’ll get all the nutrition (protein, omega 3) that comes with good quality salmon. Most supermarkets stock panko crumb next to other breadcrumbs or stuffing mixes – just follow the instructions on the pack for coating and you’re golden. The normal process is rolling the salmon in flour, then a dip it in a beaten egg and roll it in the panko crumb. One thing to watch out for with kids who are already enthusiastic about salmon being on the menu is bone content. Most salmon fillets are efficiently deboned before making it to your shopping basket however some bones can make it through the net, so use caution and warn your kids to be careful.

Salmon and International Flavours

Food that once might have been considered ‘world cuisine’ has become a mainstay of our culture and diet. With new and exciting restaurants constantly emerging, we’re seeing chefs from all over the world blending together all kinds of styles and ingredients that would once have been too ‘exotic’ to imagine. This means you now see salmon popping up in different cuisines such as Thai, Korean (Korean BBQ salmon with a sticky spicy glaze anyone?), Indian (tandoori salmon), Italian (smoked salmon and spaghetti), Chinese (five spiced salmon) Japanese, Cajun (blackened Cajun salmon) and many others. Piri Piri salmon with spicy sweet potatoes and corn on the cob with a coriander and lime butter is a dish that’s bursting with Portuguese flavour that’s even easily replicated at home. The same goes for miso baked salmon with udon noodles and a soy & ginger glaze…. or harissa salmon with roasted squash, ancient grains with lemon and roast garlic yogurt. The list goes on!

Just dipping your toe into this wonderful world? We’d highly recommend trying out our Cajun Rub recipe to bring some Creole flavour to your kitchen.

Because salmon is so robust it adapts well to big flavours without losing its identity – unlike the delicate flavours you get with some fish. As enjoyable as the classic dish of salmon with new potatoes, asparagus and hollandaise sauce is, the new world of exciting flavours that really show off the versatility of this incredible fish!

Have you got some tips of your own for cooking with salmon? Or even some pics of your own favourite salmon dishes? We’d love to see them… send them our way via the usual social channels.

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