Here’s how to cook salmon so it’s perfectly crisp on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside—every time!
If you love salmon, you’re not alone. It’s one of the most popular types of seafood in the U.S. And for good reason—salmon is both delicious and healthy. I love it.
But how do you make the most of it and make sure it comes out perfect every time?
The first step is buying good salmon. At the store, you might find farmed salmon and wild salmon, fresh salmon and previously-frozen salmon. And you might find different types of salmon, too—Pacific, Atlantic, king, sockeye, etc. All will vary slightly in size, fat, flavor, and texture. But rather than trying to remember what types have what characteristics, I recommend just asking the staff behind the counter for what you like—if you like it milder-tasting, for example, or meatier.
Me, I always ask for seafood that’s sustainable, and I always ask for whichever salmon is the fattiest—because that will be the most flavorful, juicy, and least likely to stick to the pan. (It will also be the most caloric, but hey—it’s healthy fat!)
Once home, try to use your salmon within two days or freeze it. When you’re ready to cook, take it out of the fridge 30 to 45 minutes ahead of time. Not being ice cold when it goes into the pan will also help your salmon from sticking (all your proteins really).
Now we come to cooking. I like salmon that’s crisp on the outside and juicy and tender on the inside, and have found that the best way to get this is pan roasting. Pan roasting is the best of both worlds. You start by cooking in a very hot skillet on the stovetop, which quickly sears one side and gets that crispness. Then you flip the salmon and move the pan to the oven, where the second side sears from contact with the skillet while the oven’s even heat cooks the inside to perfectly tender and juicy.
This is also a good method for other things that you want crispy on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. Steaks, chicken, and pork chops, for example.
To test your salmon for doneness, you can use an internal thermometer. The USDA recommends 145°F, but if you prefer your salmon with a bit of translucence, go for 120-125°F. You can also just test for doneness by touch—a 3/4-inch-thick fillet should feel barely firm and definitely not rigid.
Once your salmon is done, pull the skillet out of the oven—careful, it will be super hot—put the salmon on a plate, and let it rest for about 5 minutes. Then dig in.
I'm Christine Pittman, a cookbook author and busy mom of two. My recipes are made from scratch, they're quick, and they're fresh. I started this website over 10 years ago and I'm delighted that over a million people now come to visit every month to try my recipes. Thank you for visiting and for joining me on this delicious journey!Find out more about me here.
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