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MOWI’s ultimate guide to cooking salmon

Salmon is an all-rounder when it comes to cooking

Planning your meals? Thankfully salmon feels at home on all sorts of plates. From a creamy pasta to a flavourful ramen or nestled in a super salad.

It’s also versatile when it comes to cooking methods. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner or know your way around the kitchen, MOWI make it simple with hand selected, 100% Scottish salmon fillets that are cut and trimmed in ‘chef’s cut’ portions to cook with ease and elevate any dish.

For some inspiration, this cooking guide covers all the basics and some more adventurous methods. We’ve even thrown in some of our favourite recipes to get you started.

Oven baking

A classic for a reason. Oven baking salmon is the answer if you’re after a speedy serve or something to keep in your pocket for a mid-week meal. It’s a more hands-off option if you’re used to an evening of multitasking and can give you more time to prepare the other elements of your dish.

How to oven bake salmon:

The method:

  1. Start by planning your recipe – if you’re cooking veg or potatoes, they may need longer to cook
  2. Preheat your oven to 180°C (fan)
  3. Place your salmon fillets on a baking tray, making sure that it has been lined with greaseproof paper
  4. The fillets should be cooked skin side up if you like the skin to be crisp, or cooked skin side down if not
  5. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil
  6. Add your favourite herbs, spices or vegetables
  7. Place you baking tray in the oven for 22 minutes or until cooked through – oven cooking salmon is speedy and with 40p an hour energy costs, it will cost you around 15p*
  8. Plate, serve and enjoy

Rustle up one of these recipes:

Baked salmon with spiced avocado mash

Roasted salmon with roasted vegetables and mixed grains

*Source

Pan frying

This one can take a little extra practice to perfect, but is well worth the effort when it comes to tucking in. An impressive choice if you’re on dinner hosting duty, the secret to success is controlling the heat. Cooking too quick can burn the salmon skin and leave it raw in the middle – something no one wants to bite into. Instead, look out for the salmon changing colour and the skin caramelising – that’s how you know you’re onto a dinner winner.

How to pan fry salmon:

  1. Start by seasoning your salmon fillets
  2. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to a non-stick pan and start pre-heating – the fish will also release its own natural oils to prevent sticking
  3. If your fillet has skin, place it skin side down to cook
  4. Then drop the heat down to a medium/low level
  5. Your fillets should be cooked between 8-14 minutes depending on the thickness
  6. Turn the salmon over once halfway through and continue cooking the other side for the remainder of the time
  7. Plate, serve and enjoy

Some of our flavourful pan fried recipes:

Salmon linguini with white wine, chilli & olive oil

Salmon and kimchi fried rice

Steam cooking

Steaming isn’t just for vegetables. It’s also a fast and healthy way to cook salmon. Steaming can provide a speedy mid-week dish, but it also means that your fillets are being cooked gently so the flavour and nutrients are well preserved. This means that you can make every mouthful full of goodness and keep the whole home happy.

How to steam cook salmon:

  1. Salmon can be steamed using a steamer or with a deep pan and lid if you don’t have one
  2. Start by seasoning your salmon fillets with salt and pepper
  3. Bring your water to a simmer
  4. Place your salmon in the steamer – for extra flavour, you can also add herbs and vegetables
  5. Cook for 16 minutes or until the salmon is piping hot and cooked through
  6. Make sure to check that the salmon is hot all the way through
  7. Plate, serve and enjoy

Get inspired to steam with this recipe:

Steamed miso salmon with ginger & lime

Air frying

All the rage these days, air frying is a simple way to cook salmon that leaves you with seared edges and a tender, flaky centre. The perfect answer to “what’s for dinner?” when you need a family meal and time is not on your side.

How to air fry salmon:

  1. Set your air fryer at 200°c for 5 minutes
  2. Rub each salmon fillet with a little olive oil and season to your taste with salt, pepper and any other spices. Use one of our rubs or marinades to get creative with the salmon
  3. For crispy salmon skin, place the salmon skin side up in the frying basket and brush the skin of the salmon with a little olive oil.
  4. Line the base of the basket with a sheet of tin foil and place the grill plate on top of the foil (this will make it easier to clean at the end)
  5. Place your salmon in the air fryer basket in one layer and cook for 8 minutes, or until cooked through. Don’t overload the frying basket and make sure you distribute all the ingredients evenly
  6. As with all cooking methods, the exact cooking time will depend on the thickness of your salmon fillets – if they are larger, you’ll need to keep checking regularly after 8 minutes until it flakes easily when pressed with a fork
  7. Plate, serve and enjoy

Cook up a storm with these easy and tasty recipes for your air fryer:

Salmon Fish Finger Butty

Air fryer chipotle & lime salmon skewers with chimichurri dressing and avocado, black bean and feta salsa

En papillote

En papillote literally translates as ‘cooked in a packet’ which just about sums up this impressive cooking method. Usually made from parchment or wrapped in foil, the covering helps steam the salmon so that it is moist, cooked to perfection and blends well with the other ingredients. As well as being less messy and easy to prepare with your favourite flavours and sides, it makes for a delightful surprise for all the senses when you open your parcel at the end of cooking.

How to cook salmon en papillote:

  1. Start by preparing all your vegetables, herbs and spices
  2. Lay out a 30cm by 15cm sheet of tin foil or parchment paper, fold it in half lengthways, then unfold – you should be left with a crease down the middle
  3. Place your accompanying ingredients down on one half of the foil and season before laying your salmon fillet on top
  4. Fold the other half of the foil/parchment over the salmon and tuck in the other sides, making sure there are no gaps
  5. Place the salmon en papillote onto a baking tray and cook in the oven for around 22 minutes
  6. Once cooked, cut the bag open with a pair of scissors, lift the salmon and other ingredients out onto a plate and pour any leftover juices on top
  7. Plate, serve and enjoy

Perfect your en papillote with these recipes:

Salmon en papillote with lemon & dill baby potatoes, fennel & asparagus

Simple salmon en papillote

Barbequing

Cooking salmon on the barbeque grill allows you to add another layer of smoked flavour to your meal. It’s also the perfect opportunity to get creative with spice rubs, glazes and sauces Try preparing any additions the night before and storing it in the fridge until it’s time to get cooking. Take advantage of the next sunny day and whip out your BBQ to fully embrace fired salmon fillets.

How to barbeque salmon:

  1. Start by making sure your barbeque grate and bars are clean to prevent your salmon from sticking
  2. Heat the charcoal, gas or electric grill and rub the grate with a thin layer of oil
  3. While it is heating up, prepare your salmon fillets and pat them dry before lightly brushing with oil and seasoning with salt and pepper
  4. If your salmon fillet is skin on, place it skin-side down. If not, use a cedar plank or stainless-steel fish grilling basket and place the fillets on top of it
  5. Cook the salmon until cooked 3/4 of the way through before turning it over – you should be able to see the salmon changing to a lighter, more opaque pink colour
  6. Be patient when barbequing, leave the salmon alone for 5-10 minutes and don’t be tempted to push the salmon to see if it’s sticking
  7. Cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of your fillets and the heat of the grill, so it’s best to use a thermometer for an accurate reading. If you don’t have one, gentry press the top of the salmon portion with the back of a fork – it should feel firm and flake easily
  8. Plate, serve and enjoy

Choose to chargrill instead:

If you don’t have time to fire up the BBQ, chargrilling is the way to go. Use a cast iron grill pan or griddle pan to perfect your striking charred marks. This method uses minimal oil, but still gives you heaps of flavour.

Grill in style with these recipes:

Grilled salmon with baked sweet potato & chipotle mash, warm sweetcorn & black bean salsa

Salmon & asparagus kebabs with garlic mayo dip

Slow cooking

If you like to stay one step ahead, slow cooking is a great option. By using this method for your salmon dishes, you can do all the prep in the morning and pop your other ingredients and vegetables in the slow cooker. The beauty of salmon is that it cooks so quickly, so it will fall apart if left to cook too long. The trick with a slow cooker is when you’re ready to tuck in later on in the evening, just pop in your salmon for the last hour and the even heat will deliver a perfectly served dish.

How to slow cook salmon:

  1. Start by preparing your other ingredients like vegetables and spices – we recommend using aromatic vegetables like fennel and onions that will boost the flavour
  2. You can also prepare your salmon fillets beforehand by adding rubs or a marinade and keeping them in the fridge until they’re ready to be added to the slow cooker
  3. Add water and any other broths or marinades and leave them to cook for a few hours so that the flavours slowly marry together
  4. The amount of time you cook will depend on what ingredients you are using and the setting you choose on your slow cooker – for example, potatoes, onions and carrots will take much longer than leafy greens or mushrooms
  5. An hour before you’re planning to serve your meal, add your salmon fillets on top of the previous ingredients – you can use skin on or skin off salmon
  6. Cooking times will vary depending on the setting of your slow cooker and the thickness of your fillets, so it’s best to use a thermometer for an accurate reading. If you don’t have one, the salmon should easily flake when cut with a fork
  7. Plate, serve and enjoy

Slow cook and impress with this recipe:

Salmon, sweet potato & black bean chilli with sour cream

Poaching

Quick, easy and less mess – just what you want to hear when dinner time beckons. Poaching is also the healthier and tastier cooking choice as the salmon is less likely to overcook or dry out and more of the nutrients are retained than some other cooking methods.

How to poach salmon:

  1. First, you’ll need to decide which method you want to use to poach your salmon – the traditional or more contemporary style
  2. If you choose to stick to the traditional, you can create a basic Court Bouillon with wine, water, sea salt, peppercorns, sliced shallots, a squeeze of lemon and herbs like parsley or dill. Bring the stock to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes before turning off the heat and leave for 20 minutes. Remove the vegetables and herbs, then your poaching stock is ready to go – or you can place it in the fridge until you’re using it
  3. If you’d like to try something more contemporary, make your stock with lemongrass stalks, ginger, chilies, coriander stalks, soy or mirin and lime and follow the same steps
  4. When cooking, bring your stock to a light simmer before gently adding the salmon fillets and cook until the fish is completely opaque – cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of your fillets. This will usually take between 10 and 12 minutes, but it’s best to check that the salmon is cooked through before serving
  5. Make sure the liquid does not bubble too often as this will cause the fish to toughen
  6. Remove the cooked fish using a slotted spoon to avoid lifting any other ingredients in the stock
  7. Plate, serve and enjoy

Our recipe pick for poaching:

Miso & Chilli Salmon Ramen

Microwaving

Microwaves tend to heat unevenly, which is why we don’t really recommend microwaving raw salmon. It can be difficult to guarantee a good result with a chance you could find cold spots (undercooked parts of salmon). Also, in the efforts to make sure that all of the salmon portion is safely cooked through, you may end up overcooking the salmon in parts.

However, if you are short of time and want to cook salmon quickly or just want to try cooking salmon in the microwave, here is our simple method for an 800W microwave.

How to microwave salmon:

  1. Remove the salmon fillets from the packaging and place onto a microwavable plate – make sure the two salmon portions are spaced out (leave about an inch between them)
  2. Season the salmon with salt and pepper, then loosely cover with cling film – make sure there is a flap of cling film open, this helps release any steam build-up
  3. Place the salmon in the microwave and cook on full power (800w) for 2 minutes
  4. Leave the salmon to rest for 1 minute – this is really important as it gives the salmon chance to relax while continuing to cook gently without the intense power of the microwave
  5. Cook on full power for a further 1½ minutes
  6. Remove the salmon from the microwave and leave the cling film over the salmon and rest for 2 minutes before removing it
  7. Always make sure the salmon is piping hot
  8. Plate, serve and enjoy

Utensils:

The right tools for the job

Cooking with salmon doesn’t require a long list of utensils, so you can enjoy the bonus benefit of less washing up. You’ll just need two main things for a smooth serve:

A thin metal pallet knife or fish slice/spatula

Stay clear of thick plastic spatulas as they make it harder for you to get between the salmon skin and whatever you’re using to cook it. We also wouldn’t recommend tongs as they can be a bit heavy handed when handling delicate salmon.

A non-stick baking tray or non-stock frying pan

Non-stick is the way to go with salmon. If you don’t, you’ll end up having to use more oil instead.

Head to the kitchen

Who knew there were so many ways to cook a simple salmon fillet? Now that we hopefully have you feeling inspired, it’s over to you to give some of these techniques and recipes a go to appreciate the versatility of salmon.

Share your creations on social and let us know if you have any tips and tricks of your own.

Don’t forget, you can also sign up to our newsletter for even more MOWI content.

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