You don't have to be born in a fisherman's family to appreciate the magnificence of salmon. Just thinking about its gorgeous pink flesh and soft, melt-in-your-mouth fatty flavor makes even the most sophisticated people drool.
Some people save the fish for special occasions like a fine dining experience or a dinner party at home. But salmon is such a versatile and nutrition-packed protein that it's worth including in your weekly menu. That said, you have to cook it perfectly to get addicted to this stuff!
People usually get intimidated by the protein, which stops them from purchasing that beautiful 3lb slab of goodness. But it's not that difficult; in fact, it's easier than washing a food processor! You just need to learn the basics and have a few easy salmon recipes up your sleeves (or screenshot on your phone).
So, we thought, why not dedicate a post to the king of fish? And here we are discussing four easy salmon recipes that you have to try at least once. We will also teach you the tips and tricks to prepping the fish for your recipes. So, let's get started, shall we?
Types of Salmon
Before cooking salmon, you need to know which salmon to cook with. Does that make sense? Let me explain! When you need boneless chicken, you have the choice of opting for the chest piece or the skinless thigh piece, right?
Similarly, you have various choices for the type of salmon you want to cook with. Thanks to the fish's anadromous nature, these variants differ in textures and flavor profiles. Even though there is no hard and fast rule for which type of salmon you should use in your dishes, it is only fair that you are aware of the options you have.
Here are the six most popular varieties of salmon available at local supermarkets:
Here is a little about each salmon variety, so you know what you've got to work with!
1- King Salmon
King salmon is the best-tasting of all the salmon varieties. They have higher fat content and a white to deep red colored flesh jam-packed with flavor. King salmon is a treat to serve with butter-roasted potatoes.
2- Pink Salmon
Because the fish gets a prominent hump on their back when they breed, pink salmon is also available in the market under the name "humpies" or "humpback salmon." They are the most common fish that you'll find in the Pacific Ocean.
Pink salmon is usually canned, but you may also find fresh, frozen, or smoked varieties. As the name suggests, pink fish have pale pink sides and flesh. Because of its low-fat content, pink salmon works best when smoked and paired with sourdough bread and dill sauce.
3- Silver Salmon
Popular for their silver skin, silver salmon features deep red flesh. Their texture is more delicate than the King salmon, but you won't find much of a difference in terms of flavor. It works best when BBQ-ed or broiled.
4- Atlantic Salmon
Coming from the Atlantic Ocean, Atlantic salmon is a farmed fish variety high in Omega 3. You can taste its natural flavors by smoking it and using it in wraps and sandwiches.
5- Sockeye Salmon
Sockeye salmon are known for their deep, rich flavor and vivid red-orange flesh. You don't need to do much with the fish - season it with herbs and bake with veggies to get the best flavor.
6- Chum Salmon
Despite being a less popular salmon option, chum salmon is still a tasty treat. They have sharp canine teeth and are also called Dog salmon or Silverbite salmon. They have a pale to medium-colored flesh with the least fat content of all the salmon varieties.
They are usually sold canned or frozen, so you can extract the most flavor from them by smoking and mixing them in a salad.
How to Prep the Salmon
Regardless of how you are cooking your salmon, you have to prep it first to extract its natural flavors. Here is a simple three-step procedure that you have to follow before marinating your salmon in your favorite spices:
Step 1: Clean the Fish
No matter the type of salmon you are using, the first step is to wash its skin under cold water to remove any dirt. Pat it dry using a kitchen towel and let it sit for five to ten minutes to firm up.
Step 2: Locate and Remove the Bones
Even though you can cook the fish bone-in and remove them as you eat, it is better to remove the bones beforehand if you are serving it to guests. Lay the fish fillet skin-side down and feel the thin, flexible bones by running your palm along the flesh. Remove the bones using tweezers or fish pliers and discard them.
Step 3: Marinate
Rub your fish with salt and pepper and marinate it with spices or dressings of your choice. If your marinade has citrus or vinegar in it, don't let it sit for more than half an hour, or it will start to fall apart.
Easy Salmon Recipes
Salmon is one of the proteins with a strong flavor profile, so you can cook it all fancy-schmancy or just with a pinch of salt and a dash of olive oil. You can also cook in various methods; pan fry it, deep fry it, bake it, grill it – the fish won't disappoint you!
While salmon is a meal in and of itself, it also makes an excellent base for sauces and glazes. Here are some of the easy salmon recipes that you have to try:
Recipe 1: Garlic Butter Baked Salmon
Salmon slathered in garlic butter is always a win among the crowd. While garlic butter salmon is usually pan-seared, our baked salmon variant is equally delicious. This recipe yields soft, juicy, and tender fish with burnt crisp edges, fit for a fancy dinner.
Steps to Follow
1- Cut some potatoes in half and season them with salt, pepper, rosemary, thyme, and a splash of oil. Line them on a baking tray and pop them in a preheated oven at 400℉ for 45 minutes.
2- Once done, set your potatoes aside and bake your asparagus for eight minutes. Asparagus is optional, but it will balance the acidic flavors of the fish and garlic butter sauce. You can substitute it with broccoli, although we doubt anyone will!
3- It's time to put the fish on the grill! Rub the protein with minced garlic and place it skin-side-down on a bed of thinly sliced lemons. Roast it for 15 minutes at 450℉, flipping it on between.
4- Combine melted butter and lemon juice in a bowl and pour it over the freshly baked fish and veggies.
Recipe 2: Salmon Sushi Bowl
Beautiful salmon cooked in a heavenly ginger and garlic marinade served on a bed of rice topped with spicy mayo may not be the typical sushi rice fusion, but it's no less heavenly! Here's how you can cook this amazing dish in no time:
Step to Follow:
1- Marinate your salmon fillets in sesame oil, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, and ginger.
2- While it's marinating, cook brown rice and prepare the spicy mayo. Take some creamy mayo and add as much fiery Siracha as you can handle. Balance the flavors with a dash of rice vinegar.
3- Next, pan-sear your salmon for 90-seconds on all four sides. Add the leftover marinade to the pan and sear the fish for an additional 15 seconds to lock in the gingery flavors.
4- Add rice to your bowl and layer other toppings like cucumber, avocado, and seaweed. Place your salmon on top and top it off with some spicy mayo.
Recipe 3: Mediterranean Avocado Salmon Salad
This salmon recipe is a delightful take on your favorite Mediterranean salad. This salad will refresh you on the hottest days with smoked salmon, cucumbers, olives, avocados, and feta dressed with lemon herb dressing.
Steps to Follow
1- Mix 1/3rd cup of kosher salt, a cup of brown sugar, and four cups of cold water in a container. Add your fish and let it sit in the refrigerator for at least four hours or overnight.
2- Take your fish out, rinse it under cool water and pat it dry. Leave it on a cooling rack for one to two hours until it develops a shiny film called a pellicle.
3- Put it in a preheated smoker for two to three hours, basting it with maple syrup, apricot jam, or honey after every hour.
4- Once the fish is done, it's time to assemble your salad. Add sliced onions, cucumbers, crumbled feta olives, cherry tomatoes, sundried tomatoes, eggplant, salad leaves, beans, artichoke, and avocado.
5- Prepare a simple dressing by mixing olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, dried oregano, salt, and pepper.
6- Cut the fish into chunks and mix it with the veggies. Drizzle your lemon and herb dressing and serve!
Recipe 4: Blackened Salmon Fajitas
These Blackened Salmon Fajitas are a simple weeknight dinner that you can prepare in 30 minutes! Don't like sautéed peppers, onions, or tomatoes? Substitute it for something else! That's the charm of this dish – its customizability.
Steps to Follow
1- Season your salmon with lemon juice and Cajun seasoning.
2- In a non-stick pan, heat two tablespoons of oil and cook the salmon over medium-high flame for four minutes per side.
3- While the fish is cooking, slice tomatoes, onions, and peppers. Remove the fish from the pan and add the veggies to the same skillet to sauté them for around five minutes.
4- Shred your salmon; add it back to the skillet and mix.
5- Prepare a simple sauce using yogurt, lemon juice, and cilantro. Add some hot sauce as well if you like.
6- It's time to assemble some fajitas! Heat your tortillas spread some sauce on them, add the salmon mixture and drizzle it with the sauce.
Health Benefits of Salmon
Salmon tastes not only delicious but also has several health benefits. Here are some facts regarding salmon's health benefits:
1- All the six types of salmon are incredibly nutritious and provide a wide range of nutrients, particularly omega-three fatty acids.
2- Salmon is an excellent protein to include in your diet because it aids in the prevention of diseases including cancer, dementia, rheumatoid arthritis, and Alzheimer's disease.
3- Salmon's high vitamin B12 content is important for preventing heart failure.
4- Each serving of salmon contains 8% of the daily value of Vitamin A, which helps improve vision.
5- Salmon, a sugar-free protein, helps prevent diabetes, obesity, and cholesterol.
Best Knife for Cutting Salmon
To prepare a restaurant-style salmon dish, you must have a restaurant-style fish cut. And everyone knows you can't have the proper fish cuts without the best knives. Luckily, we have suggested two of our personal favorites to help you save the time of searching for the tools:
1- Imarku Deba Knife 7"
The Imarku Deba Knife is the perfect kitchen tool for professional chefs and enthusiastic home cooks. It features an ergonomic pakkawood handle that offers the ideal grip and comfort when cutting fish.
The Deba Knife features a long seven-inch single bevel design, which is no less than a double bevel knife. Its stainless steel blade is sturdy and sharp, so you don't have to butcher your fish. You can use this knife to cut your salmon's head, break its bones, and gut and fillet it.
Sharp and sturdy blade
Heavier than other fish knives
2- Imarku Sushi Knife 10"
The Imarku Sushi Knife is ideal for filleting, slicing, and deboning not only salmon but any large Pacific fish! It features a 9.45-inches sturdy and durable high-carbon stainless steel blade.
The handle is crafted of high-quality pakkawood and measures 5.6 inches in length. It is well-balanced, ergonomic, and sanitary for better handling and functionality. The best part is that you don't need to follow a five-step routine to ensure your fish knife lasts long enough. You only have to make sure not to wash it in the dishwasher – take care of that, and your Sushi Knife will live longer than you can expect.
Water-resistant wooden handle
Not suitable for dishwashers
The Bottom Line
With these knives, you will be cutting salmon like a pro in no time! And cutting the fish is only the initial step. Once you have a clean cut of the magnificent fish and our easy salmon recipes in hand, nothing can stop you from making a better salmon dish than Gordon Ramsay.
Don't let the intimidation of cooking this nutritious and delicious fish for quick evening meals. Try these recipes and watch as people ask when you will be holding your next signature salmon dinner.